STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Jared Benko checked all the boxes.
That’s how Georgia Southern president Dr. Kyle Marrero explained the hire of the Eagles’ new athletic director Monday. Now Benko will set out to lead the Georgia Southern athletic department into the future.
“Folks, I think we have found the perfect fit for our athletic director at Georgia Southern," Dr. Marrero said. “We feel like we have hit a home run.”
Benko was introduced as the school’s new A.D. Monday afternoon, and he called the appeal of his new job a combination of history and potential.
“Our best days are ahead. I wouldn’t be here today if I felt differently,” Benko says. “I think there is so much optimism here. The future is so bright, and I just can’t wait to get started.”
Benko spent the last four years as Mississippi State’s deputy athletic director and chief financial officer. He comes to Statesboro with more than a decade of experience in SEC athletic administrative roles.
A Georgia native, Benko says he and his family are excited about moving into the “close-knit community” of Statesboro. But Benko also says it’s the growth potential of Georgia Southern that appealed to him.
“I think the sky is the limit to be honest with you. We’ve got opportunities across the board. To me, the strongest thing we have to sell is the Georgia Southern brand,” Benko says. “We’re a national brand. So to me, we can embrace our history and look towards the future. We have some opportunities facilities-wise and opportunities to make sure we’re competing for championships and ultimately more importantly, graduate young men and women.”
Benko’s tenure doesn’t begin until April 1, but he spent much of his Monday in Statesboro. He met Eagle alumni on campus before being introduced at the men’s basketball game Monday. Benko even stopped by the locker room to congratulate the Eagles after a comeback victory over Louisiana.
One of the goals Benko described during his press conference was comprehensive success across the athletic department. He says it’s something he’s helped achieve at his previous stops, and believes it can be done in Statesboro as well.
“Honestly, a lot of it is going to be hard work and strategy on our end to help them. Really my job as the athletic director is to remove roadblocks for them. To really help them and position our student-athletes and coaches for success,” he says. "So I wish there was a magic potion, but it’s really just going to be making sure that we’re doing everything we can to recruit the right student-athletes here.”