SAVANNAH, Ga. -- After three years at the helm of Savannah State University's athletic department, Robert "Tony" O'Neal today announced he is stepping down as athletic director for personal reasons effective immediately. O'Neal will assume other athletic-related duties at the university.
"I have decided to resign as the athletics director at Savannah State,"
O'Neal said. "It was a very tough decision, but I feel this is what's best for me and my family."
Dr. Claud Flythe, vice president for Administration, has appointed Paula Jackson as interim athletic director. Jackson, who has worked at Savannah State since 2005, is currently the senior women's administrator and assistant athletic director for compliance. SSU has not made plans to conduct a nationwide search at this time.
"Paula Jackson has full power and authority to exercise as the interim athletic director," said Flythe. "She has full support from my office and the President's office."
Jackson, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, comes to SSU from Morehead State University where she served as an asst. athletic director and senior women's administrator. She has held the same positions at Clark-Atlanta University.
O'Neal became the 14th athletic director at SSU on August 1, 2004. During his tenure, Savannah State's athletics department was certified by the National Collegiate Athletic Association as a Division I program.
He has shown his commitment to honoring SSU student-athletes by revitalizing the athletic letterman program. At the annual banquet, student athletics are awarded for their academic and athletic dedication to SSU with letterman jackets, plaques, trophies, watches and scholarships.
"SSU has provided me with an opportunity to make an immediate impact as the Athletics Director," said O'Neal. "I am confident that Dr. Yarbrough and Dr.
Flythe will bring in someone that will continue to take SSU in the right direction. Savannah State athletics has a bright future."
O'Neal also led the push in SSU's quest to join a Division I conference by submitting an application to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in May of 2005. The MEAC said it will reconsider SSU's application in 2009.
The Detroit, Michigan native earned his bachelor of arts in social welfare from Central State University. Prior, to his arrival at Savannah State, he served as the associate athletic director for compliance at Bethune-Cookman College.