“A well-deserved recognition”

Auburn University's Jay Jacobs named Athletics Director of the Year

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Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs has been named a 2016-2017 NACDA Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year.

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics award voted on by a select committee of athletic directors "highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities," according to NACDA's news release.

Auburn President Jay Gogue nominated Jacobs, who was named athletics director in 2005 after working in nearly every area of the department for 20 years.

"This is a great day for Auburn and a tremendous honor for Jay Jacobs, his staff and all those who are responsible for this well-deserved recognition," Gogue said.

The Auburn president said Auburn Athletics has excelled in each of the areas he deems important for a balanced and successful athletic program.

"Under Jay's leadership, our student-athletes are excelling in the classroom and in competition," Gogue said. "Auburn Athletics is in a strong position financially. Our gameday experience was voted best in the SEC and Auburn has not had a major NCAA violation during Jay's tenure. I've always said a great athletics department excels in each of these areas, and we are doing that thanks to Jay and his staff."

Gogue also said he appreciates Jacobs' longtime service to Auburn, where he walked on the football team before beginning a career spanning three decades at Auburn Athletics.

"This well-deserved award is a tremendous credit to Jay and all he has meant to Auburn throughout his career. He leads the department with integrity, and I'm pleased how he represents Auburn so well, Gogue said."

Jacobs said he would accept the NACDA AD of the Year award at the organization's June meeting in Orlando on behalf of Auburn and the entire athletic department, which he credited for the recognition.

"I'm humbled by this honor, and I deeply appreciate NACDA and the distinguished selection committee for recognizing Auburn Athletics," Jacobs said. "This award is a credit to the entire university, the Auburn Athletics Department staff, our coaches and student-athletes. I share it with each of them."

Jacobs said the chance to play football and earn two degrees at Auburn made him who he is today.

"Auburn is a special place that means so much to my family and me," Jacobs said. "The greatest honor of all is serving my alma mater and having the chance each day to impact the lives of our incredible student-athletes. They make me proud to be an Auburn man."

Head football coach Gus Malzahn and head basketball coach Bruce Pearl both offered congratulations to Jacobs.

"I want to congratulate Jay on being named the NACDA Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year," Malzahn said. "I've worked with Jay for seven years and what stands out to me is his love and passion for Auburn and his care and interest in our student-athletes. Jay takes the time to get to know each of them on a personal basis and really values their well-being on and off the playing field."

Pearl said Jacobs' passion for people and Auburn student-athletes guides all of his decisions.

"Jay has become a great friend," Pearl said. "He truly cares about people and he has a passion to serve the student-athletes. He goes to work every day trying to create an atmosphere where our student-athletes can have the best possible experience academically, athletically and personally."

The coach hired by Jacobs to turn around Auburn's basketball program also said he appreciates Jacobs' leadership style.

"He is a servant leader," Pearl said. "Jay is a great listener. Having played football at Auburn, he recognizes that is where his roots and fundamentals are. He recognized it in hiring me and hiring Coach Chuck Person on my staff. He understands that's our expertise and he just puts himself in position constantly to say, 'What do I need to do? What do you need from me to get this Auburn program to be known as a basketball school as well?'"

Auburn finished the 2016 academic year ranked in the top 10 percent of the NACDA Directors Cup standings, while five Auburn teams enjoyed best-in-history seasons. During Jacobs' tenure, Auburn has won 12 national championships and 27 conference championships.

Academically, Auburn student-athletes are performing at record levels. The average cumulative grade point average of Auburn student-athletes is 3.17, the highest ever. A total of 397 student-athletes received the Top Tiger Award last year for having a 3.0 GPA or higher, a 57 percent increase over 2011.

Auburn Athletics' facilities have been transformed during Jacobs' tenure, with more than $200 million in new construction and facility improvements. Auburn Athletics finished FY 2016 with record revenues and the department operates with a healthy surplus.

Jacobs has also been actively involved in community service efforts, championing the End Child Hunger in Alabama movement by designating the cause as the department's signature community service initiative. Jacobs led the effort to partner with Auburn University's Hunger Solutions Institute through the College of Human Sciences. He was the keynote speaker at a global hunger summit on the campus of the University of Missouri.

Another Auburn Athletics' community outreach that drew national attention occurred when Jacobs visited Schmid Elementary School on the south side of Chicago and invited an entire class that had won a college contest featuring Auburn to visit campus for a weekend and attend a football game. The visit also inspired the Auburn Family to embrace the school.

Jacobs and his wife, Angie, are also active advocates for foster parenting. They and their three daughters have been foster parents since 2009. Both were founding members of Haddie's Home, a girls' home in Opelika, a non-profit organization they continue to serve and support.

An honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa, Jacobs earned a business degree and an MBA from Auburn. He was a member of the 1983 SEC Champion football team and was a Walk-On All-American.

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.