Jay Jacobs retires after 39-years in athletics: From LaFayette to Auburn

Published 7:48 am Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Jay Jacobs grew up in LaFayette before moving to Florida and graduating from Wolfson High School. Now, after 39 years of working in sports, Jacobs will call it a career. 

Jacobs served as the athletic director for Auburn from 2005 up until 2018. He has served as the associate AD for external affairs at Florida since June of 2018. 

While at Auburn, Jacobs oversaw the winning of 12 national championships across the athletics program. Most notably, Jacobs oversaw Auburn winning the national championship in football in 2010. 

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Jacobs spent over thirty years in the athletic department at Auburn. He initially worked as an assistant coach, a strength and conditioning coach, and an assistant AD before taking over as the athletic director in 2005. 

As a 16 year old, Jacobs and his family left his home of Lafayette and moved to Jacksonville Florida. Jacobs had to leave all of his friends at West Point High School behind. 

“It was the hardest thing I had done up until that point in my life,” Jacobs said in a recent interview with the Valley Times. “It ended up being one of the most rewarding things that ever happened to me.” 

Jacobs said that the move to Florida taught him how to interact with people that were different than he was. 

“The school was so big that each hallway had a name for it,” Jacobs said. “It really helped me learn how to meet new people and be a part of a group that was a lot different than I was. It was really a blessing.”

Jacobs took a lot with him from his time in Lafayette. His first job was working for his grandfather at his funeral home in Lafayette. Jacobs believes that the people of Lafayette Alabama are like no other. 

“My grandfather had a funeral home in Lafayette and I worked for him every summer since I was 12 years old,” Jacobs said. “After six months of being out of high school, I moved back to Lafayette to live at the funeral home with my grandparents and work for them every day while going to Southern Union. “

“The people there in Lafayette are just salt of the earth people,” Jacobs said. “ It really took a village to raise a child.”

Even though Jacobs had the opportunity to witness multiple great seasons as an athletic director, he says the best memories came from the people he had the opportunity to meet along the way. 

“The thing that I’m most cherished with is the relationships with the people that I had a chance to be with,” Jacobs said. “Along with that are the countless student athletes that I got a chance to meet. They inspired me every day.” 

According to Jacobs, looking back on Auburn’s 2010 national championship team is much different than experiencing it on a weekly basis. 

“When you’re going through it you don’t know how it’s going to end,” Jacobs said. “Going through it week by week was so nerve racking. It was almost like each week was a relief instead of a celebration. Once we won out there in Arizona, man that was a great celebration. I was so proud of my school, for Auburn, for winning the national championship and me having a front row seat to watch it.” 

Jacobs took the opportunity to give some advice for anyone wanting to make it in sports administration or coaching. Jacobs said that you need to have the intangible things like integrity and a good work ethic. 

“You have to have to find a way to get your foot in the door,” Jacobs said. “You have to get some experience.” Jacobs believes that you have to be willing to work as a volunteer to get your start. 

During retirement, Jacobs is not planning on completely stepping away from college athletics. Jacobs says he still wants to help in some form, but for now he will be taking some time to relax.

“My immediate plans are to hang out at Lake Martin for five or six weeks and try to slow down my heart rate a little bit,” Jacobs said. Jacobs says afterward he will think about what role he wants to serve in the future. “My mission in life is to create a positive impact in other people’s lives.”