Deadspin: Southern Missississippi football

I wrote the records request and obtained the documents that lead to the following stories with Deadspin writer Barry Petchesky about the financial troubles within the Southern Mississippi athletic department and subsequent scheduling moves with the football team. Barry connected the dots and put everything together.

December 26: “Cash-Strapped Southern Miss Tries To Wring More Money Out Of Its Schedule, Considers Canceling BYU Series

…Hammond, we’ve learned, may not be done trying to wring more money out of the Golden Eagles’ schedule. In July 2011, then-AD Richard Giannini—whom Hammond blamed for USM’s sorry finances—finalized an agreement with BYU for a home-and-home series in 2014 and 2015. That contract is published here, and it’s a fascinating glimpse at the legal framework behind football scheduling, but the thing to focus on is the guaranteed payments… (continue reading on

December 27: “‘In The Oil Business, We Call It A Dry Hole’: Angry Letters Boosters Send The AD When The Football Team Goes 0-12“:

… Our FOIA requests, which turned up evidence of Hammond filling out USM’s future schedule to recoup some of its losses, also revealed a number of emails from angry fans and alumni—more often than not donors and members of the university’s Eagle Club. We have scores of letters to Hammond from boosters, sent over the course of the season, demanding the termination of Ellis Johnson. Some threaten to withhold their donations if he’s not fired; others offer to donate to a fund specifically to cover Johnson’s buyout… (continue reading on

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