BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Most of the alumni WLOX spoke with are upset that Jeff Hammond was fired. They felt like he made the right move in firing Golden Eagles football coach Ellis Johnson following a humiliating 0 and 12 season. Hammond also hired Southern Miss basketball coach Donnie Tyndall who guided the Golden Eagles to an impressive 27 victories and trip to the NIT.
Billy Walker of Biloxi loves Southern Miss. He's a big-time supporter of all Golden Eagle athletic events and admits he wasn't happy when University President Rodney Bennett announced that the one-year contract for Jeff Hammond will not be renewed.
Walker said he was shocked and saddened by the news and contacted Hammond.
"I emailed Jeff earlier today and, as always, Jeff takes the high road. He is a man of integrity, very respectful of people and he'll move on to bigger and better things."
"I think the decision was made that President Bennett wanted to make. Whether it was the decision of the majority of the people wanted, I don't think so," Walker said. "Most of the people I've talked to wanted Jeff Hammond to be given a contract to remain the athletics director at Southern Miss."
The firing of athletics director Hammond now has Walker reconsidering his full support of Southern Miss athletics.
"Southern Miss has been on a roller coaster the last few years," stated Walker. "Unfortunately we haven't been ascending at the rate we use to and I thought Jeff was our best chance to put Southern Miss in position for the future to be in a better league and a better position for Southern Miss to compete nationally."
As far as his future support? "That's something I'll have to discuss with my family, but personally right now it's very difficult for me to maintain the level of support I've been giving."
Chevis Swetman has been a long-time Southern Miss supporter and gave some insight into some reasons why Hammond was fired.
"I'm a Jeff Hammond supporter and I thought Jeff was trying to do the right thing there, doing it by the book to make sure everything was being done properly and correctly," Swetman said.
Swetman said over time some alumni got dissatisfied and says the real story is the College Board.
"If you don't have the support of the College Board and if the College Board is really not behind you, you are going to have major problems," he added. "I just think there are some other things there that the stars were not aligned and I think we've lost a good man. But I think we're going to have to go from here."