‘The wow factor’: MSU names Zac Selmon its next athletic director

It’s been more than two months since former Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen left his alma mater for Auburn. The search for his replacement was put on pause after the tragic death of Mike Leach in December.

But Mississippi State finally named its new athletic director Friday: Oklahoma’s Zac Selmon.

Selmon, 37, not only becomes the university’s 18th athletic director, but also the first Black athletic director in school history.

Mississippi State president Mark Keenum said they conducted an exhaustive national search for their next leader — and Selmon was a perfect fit.

“Not only does Zac Selmon have the ‘it factor,’ he has the ‘wow factor,'” Keenum said.

They had a long list of criteria when looking at candidates. Keenum said Selmon met all of them. One particular characteristic that made Selmon an attractive choice was his experience with NIL.

“It’ll be top priority,” Selmon said. “I think it’s critically important. And I think it’s something we’re all learning and we’re evolving with. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.”

When Selmon and his family arrived in Starkville on Thursday, they immediately knew it was home.

He fits right in already, too. Taking the podium and immediately wishing the crowd a “happy maroon Friday.” Then when Dr. Keenum gifted him his cowbell, he looked at his parents and said “Mom and dad, it’s like Christmas.”

“Sometimes it takes time to get acclimated to places, but it just hasn’t been that,” Selmon said. “We got on campus yesterday and just walked around. And going through campus this morning — unbelievable the pride you have here. We’re just so excited to be here.”

Selmon said he was feeling plenty of emotions Friday, but if he had to pick one word to describe how he felt, it would be grateful.

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