It's a transition period for Jacksonville State University athletics, and
athletics director Jim Fuller has opted to transition into retirement.
Fuller informed JSU president Dr. Bill Meehan of his decision earlier this
week. His retirement will become effective at the end of this summer.
So will end his long run as a player, coach and administrator at the
University of Alabama and JSU.
"I felt like it was just the right time for me to step away from college
athletics, which is something I've been involved in for more than 40 years,"
Fuller said in a statement released by JSU. "I was blessed to have worked with
an incredible staff. … With their help, and in many situations taking time out
from their jobs, we have been successful in accomplishing some, but not all the
things that we set out to do."
Fuller could not be reached for further comment as of press time.
Meehan said that he expects to begin the search for Fuller's replacement by
the end of the year and might hire an interim.
Sources have told The Star that a likely replacement for Fuller would be Oval
Jaynes, who has done consulting work in relation to JSU's exploring a move up to
NCAA Bowl Subdivision in football. Jaynes currently works for the
Tuscaloosa-based Johnny Williams Group consulting firm.
It's not certain who might serve as an interim. Former senior women's
administrator Debbie Bishop was interim AD before Fuller was hired, but she
retired in May.
For the moment, the focus is on Fuller. Meehan lauded Fuller's
"The last five years, we've had 31 conference championships, outstanding
grade point average of our students. They've done well," Meehan said. "He sees
this as a turning point for the university and a good chance for him to step
"He's done a good job putting us on a new level. It's his decision, and
that's the way he should go."
Not only has JSU begun exploring a move up in football, but the school also
recently hired James Green as its men's basketball coach after not renewing the
contract of former coach Mike LaPlante.
Meehan also said school officials are sorting out how to handle a $5 million
budget cut from Montgomery, and it's uncertain what kind of hit athletics will
"We're all working on that right now," Meehan said. "It means positions will
stay open and reorganization, try to conserve where we can, consolidate
positions. It makes it tough for everybody."
Meanwhile, the school seeks to add skyboxes and seats to Paul Snow Stadium as
part of a major renovation for athletics facilities. The total project, which
includes student housing, is expected to cost about $36 million.
Revenue from the skyboxes and student housing is expected to defray cost.
High-placed sources at JSU have told The Star that some trustees questioned
Fuller's ability to sell the skyboxes and lead the program forward.
He was also blamed for a scheduling glitch that cost JSU a football game with
Mississippi State last season. The school missed out on a $250,000 game
guarantee and paid $150,000 for breaking the contract.
It's also known that Fuller wasn't involved in the search that resulted in
Green's hiring. He also wasn't consulted on the five-year contract given to
football coach Jack Crowe last year or in early talks about a move up in
Still, Fuller presided over major capital projects, including the completion
of Kennamer Hall and the William Taylor Stewart Strength and Conditioning
Center, renovations of Gamecock Football Field House, the Paul Snow Stadium turf
and scoreboard projects and University Field upgrades.
Fuller also presided over 31 conference championships and two OVC Women's
All-Sports Trophies. It's the most conference championships by JSU over a
five-year span in school history and 14 more conference titles than the next OVC
school during that span.
Also, more than 450 athletes have been named to the OVC Commissioner's Honor
Roll, and more than 600 maintained a 3.0 grade point average since Fuller took
over as AD in 2003.
"I was glad to have him come back," Meehan said. "He's a Gamecock at heart,
even though he spent his young career and the latter part of his career back in
Tuscaloosa, we were glad to have him come home and end his career here at
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