Southern Miss head men’s basketball coach Jay Ladner has signed a contract extension through the 2026-27 season.
“We are extremely excited to have Jay Ladner continue to lead our men’s basketball program into the future,” said Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain. “Jay has done a tremendous job of engaging our community and working to rebuild our program to contend for championships. As we continue to invest in our future, we look forward to Jay’s leadership being a catalyst for our sustained success.”
Ladner’s contract extension, which will have a base salary of $400,000, comes after he guided the Golden Eagles to the Sun Belt regular season title. He was also named NABC District 23 Coach of the Year, Joe Gottfried Sun Belt Coach of the Year and a Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year finalist. He helped Southern Miss to 25 wins this season after finishing with seven just a season ago. The 18-win swing is two shy of tying the record for the best turnaround in NCAA history.
“I’m very blessed and humbled to continue to be the head basketball coach at this incredible institution that has meant so much to me and my family,” Ladner said. “I am so grateful to our assistant coaches, staff and most of all our players, both past and present. To OUR loyal fans who have reawakened Reed Green Coliseum to make it one of the toughest venues in America, THANK YOU!”
“I’m so grateful to work with two of the best leaders I’ve ever known in Dr. Joe Paul and Jeremy McClain.”
The Golden Eagles’ 25 wins are tied for the most in Southern Miss’ Division I era and four shy of tying the most wins in program history. Ladner’s team also went 15-0 at Reed Green Coliseum to tie the 2011-12 team for the best home winning percentage in program history. The Golden Eagles finished Sun Belt play with 14 wins to tie the 1949-50 team for the most conference wins in a single season.
Ladner, who is entering his fifth season as the head men’s basketball coach, was a member of the 1987 NIT championship team. He previously served at the helm of Southeastern Louisiana, guiding the team to the 2017-18 Southland Conference regular season title.
During his third season leading the Golden Eagles, Southern Miss rallied in the Conference USA Tournament to upset UTSA in the opening round in Frisco, Texas. The Golden Eagles also produced All-Conference USA Honorable Mention player Tyler Stevenson, who was also a Howell Award Finalist.
The 2020-21 season, Ladner’s second in charge, saw the Golden Eagles rally through the COVID season. Some of the team’s accomplishments included first-year junior guard Tae Hardy earning Player of the Week honors following an otherworldly second-half performance at FIU and Jaron Pierre Jr. becoming the school’s first C-USA All-Freshman Team honoree since 2011.
Ladner’s first year at the helm saw the Golden Eagles, despite returning only 36 and 38 percent of its minutes and scoring, respectively, from a year ago, fight to a 9-22 record. Southern Miss also played the 13th-toughest non-conference schedule according to KenPom, including three consecutive nights against No. 7 Gonzaga, No. 13 Seton Hall, and Alabama in the prestigious Battle 4 Atlantis. The Black and Gold also led defending national runner-up Texas Tech by seven at the half in Lubbock, and Tyler Stevenson finished as the fourth-most improved sophomore in terms of scoring from his freshman year (12.8 ppg from 3.3).
Under Ladner’s leadership, Southeastern improved from nine wins his first year to win 12, 16, and 22 contests in succeeding years. It was the school’s first 20-win season since reaching the 2005 NCAA Tournament and the third in its Division I era. The 2018-19 squad featured two First-Team, All-Southland performers in Marlain Veal and Moses Greenwood, just the third time in school history that two Lions earned that distinction. Overall, Ladner mentored eight All-Conference performers in his five years.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jay Ladner and his family back to Hattiesburg and Southern Miss,” Jeremy McClain, Director of Athletics said. “Jay has proven throughout his career that he is a winner, elevating every basketball program with which he has been associated. We look forward to him leading and developing our student-athletes and taking our program to new heights.”
The famed NIT championship team defeated Ole Miss, Saint Louis, Vanderbilt, Nebraska, and La Salle en route to the title in Madison Square Garden under legendary coach M.K. Turk.
Ladner’s coaching credentials feature a 511-189 record in the high school ranks, from St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis to his alma mater, Oak Grove. He led St. Stanislaus to 10 state tournament appearances, including the 2011 title for which he was named the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Coach of the Year.
Ladner then took his talents to the collegiate ranks, spending the 2012-14 seasons as head coach at Jones County Junior College. The Bobcats were 17-8 in his first season, finishing second in the MACJC’s South Division, and during the 2013-14 season became the first Mississippi junior college to win a national title. JCJC set a school record for wins at 28-5 and became the lowest-seeded school to win an NJCAA basketball title in any division, as well as the first school in tournament history to win five games in five days for the title.
The former Pass Christian resident received his bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine/biology, with a minor in chemistry, from Southern Miss in 1988. While at Southern Miss for his undergraduate degree, he played baseball in the ’85 and ’86 seasons, but played basketball from ’84-’88, playing a part as a member of the NIT Champion team in ’87.
Upon graduation, he entered the pharmaceutical sales business, covering the Mississippi Gulf Coast out to Covington, La., before beginning his high-school coaching career at St. Stanislaus in 1992. He received his master’s degree in educational administration from Southern Miss in 1999. Ladner graduated from Oak Grove High School in 1984.