When John Cohen was named Mississippi State University’s 17th director of athletics on November 4, 2016, he immediately began putting his stamp on the department. Since that time, the former MSU student-athlete, head baseball coach and two-time Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year has overseen arguably the greatest era in Bulldog athletic history.
Since the spring of 2018, State has claimed five SEC team championships, representing the most in a two-year span in school history. Under Cohen’s watch, 35 teams have advanced to postseason play, including a school-record 13 during the 2018-19 athletic year. That occurred just a year after the Bulldogs produced a then-school-record 12 postseason squads during the 2017-18 athletic campaign.
During the 2018-19 athletic year, the Bulldogs combined for 151 victories in the sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball in 2018-19, representing the highest total in the SEC. MSU tied for the national lead with the most first-round selections in the NFL, NBA, WNBA and MLB Drafts with five. The five first-round picks are the most by MSU in a calendar year in its history.
In the classroom, MSU student-athletes have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher for six consecutive semesters and continue to exceed the national APR multiyear rate in all sports.
Cohen, who spent more than two decades coaching college baseball, was named MSU’s head baseball coach in July of 2008. Nine years later, Cohen’s official role in administration began when he assumed the role of associate athletic director in addition to head baseball coach. The following November, he took charge of an athletic department that has since achieved new heights in athletic, academic, facility, and fundraising achievement.
Cohen is the only coach in SEC history to win an SEC championship, SEC tournament championship, and advance to the College World Series both as a player and head coach. He and Ron Polk are the only two baseball coaches in SEC history to lead multiple schools to SEC titles. His 2013 Bulldog club advanced to the CWS championship series for the first time in MSU history. Cohen also had the privilege of being a part of a College World Series as a player, head coach and now twice as an athletic director when the Diamond Dawgs reached Omaha in June 2018 and 2019.
Cohen and his wife, Nelle, are active members of the Starkville community. The couple has two children, Jordan and Avery.