Southern Miss president expresses confidence in coach Jay Hopson after tumultuous week

Southern Miss president Rodney D. Bennett gave coach Jay Hopson a vote of confidence on Monday, following a tumultuous week that included Hopson's interview with former Baylor coach Art Briles and the recruitment of a junior college player who was previously accused of rape.

"Jay Hopson and I have spoken on multiple occasions in recent days and met face-to-face over the weekend to chart the most successful path forward for the Southern Miss football program," Bennett said in the statement. "Coach Hopson assured me of his commitment to overseeing a program that upholds the values of The University of Southern Mississippi. I know Coach Hopson to be a man of high ethics and integrity, and I assured him of the University's dedication to continuing our winning tradition."

Hopson interviewed Briles for an assistant position on the Golden Eagles' staff, only to receive massive pushback from Bennett and athletic director Jeff Mitchell. Hopson then released his own statement via his Twitter account defending his interview with Briles, who was dismissed by Baylor in May 2016 following a sexual assault scandal within the Bears' program.

The Athletic reported last week that Hopson also attempted to add junior college transfer Charles West, who was accused of rape in two separate incidents in 2015.

"Our conversation included many topics, including the events of the past week," Bennett's statement read. "As a matter of practice, Coach Hopson seeks approval from and works in good faith with athletic administration on prospective student athletes who have special or unique circumstances for admission to the University, which is consistent with University protocol in student-athlete recruitment. Additionally, Coach Hopson notified the University of his desire to meet with Art Briles, which is his right to do so as head football coach and is in line with normal University processes. After an intentional and thorough review of Mr. Briles' candidacy, I expressed my reservations, and ultimately that review led to the decision that Mr. Briles was not a viable candidate."

Hopson is entering his fourth year at the helm at Southern Miss. He has posted a 21-16 record, is 15-9 in Conference USA and has led the Golden Eagles to bowl games in 2016 and 2017. They went 6-5 in 2018, but were one of four bowl eligible teams who were not selected for the postseason.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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