Mississippi State hires John Cohen as athletics director

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State didn't have to look far to find its new athletics director, hiring Bulldogs baseball coach John Cohen on Friday.

Cohen has coached college baseball for more than two decades and has been Mississippi State's coach since 2009. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native has never been an athletics director, but was named associate athletics director at Mississippi State when his baseball contract was extended during the summer.

The 50-year-old Cohen will replace Scott Stricklin, who left to become the athletics director at Florida in September.

Cohen said he's grateful for the opportunity and has wanted to be an athletics director for a long time. He called Stricklin a ''really an incredible person'' who helped him get ready for the job.

''I just kept finding myself gravitating toward those athletic directors, those guys who would share information and talk about the future of intercollegiate athletics,'' Cohen said. ''I have to admit to you, I got hooked.''

Terms of Cohen's new deal as athletics director were not released.

Cohen led Mississippi State to the College World Series championship series in 2013 before the Bulldogs fell to UCLA. He also played baseball at Mississippi State from 1988-90.

Cohen isn't the only athletics director in the Southeastern Conference who comes from a baseball background. South Carolina's Ray Tanner coached the Gamecocks to back-to-back national titles in 2010 and '11 before becoming the school's athletics director in 2012.

Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum said that the school hired a search firm to assist with finding Stricklin's replacement, but that they kept coming back to Cohen as the best candidate for the job.

''We identified a number of truly outstanding collegiate athletic directors and senior associate directors from across the nation,'' Keenum said. ''It was a very exhaustive process and it led up to this past weekend. But we kept coming back to John Cohen. More than just leading our baseball program with great success, he's also been very involved in helping lead the entire department.''

Cohen's first task will be hiring a new baseball coach to replace himself.

''I told our team, `You are not going to get a coach as good as John Cohen, you are going to get one that is better than John Cohen,''' Cohen said. ''We are on that job now.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.