John Cohen is the 17th Director of Athletics at Mississippi State University (MSU).
Previously the MSU head baseball coach, he was the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year twice for the Bulldogs. “I love Mississippi State University,” Cohen said. “As a student, later as a coach, and now with this fantastic opportunity to lead MSU’s athletics program, this was always where I wanted to be. I am profoundly grateful for the chance to lead the totality of MSU athletics as I have tried to lead MSU’s baseball program – in daily and dogged pursuit of championships at the highest level.”
Cohen, 50, has spent over two decades coaching college baseball and has been the head baseball coach at MSU since 2009. In July, he was given the title of Associate Athletic Director, broadening his role in the MSU Athletic Department. Cohen’s promotion to athletic director comes after a national search by the university.
A Tuscaloosa, Ala. native and MSU alumnus, Cohen has been a head coach in the SEC for 12 years. His teams have been successful both on the field and in the classroom. At MSU, he has led the Bulldogs to a College World Series finals appearance, an SEC regular season championship and an SEC Tournament championship. Since 2009, MSU baseball has had 133 players selected to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, including three straight SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year winners from 2013-15.
“I’m fortunate to know our MSU coaches as friends and colleagues, and to know many of our athletes in all sports,” said Cohen. “While baseball has been a huge part of my life, my passion for seeing MSU athletics thrive and win extends to all sports. As associate director of athletics, I’ve been a significant part of planning the future of MSU Athletics and I believe I can hit the ground running in advancing that agenda. I’m grateful to Dr. Keenum and the Bulldog stakeholders who advised him for allowing me to embrace these new and critical responsibilities.”
As a baseball player at MSU, Cohen was a key player on the Bulldogs’ 1989 SEC championship team and 1990 College World Series team. He graduated from MSU with a degree in English in 1990 and received a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Missouri in 1994. After a six-year stint with Missouri as a graduate assistant and assistant coach, Cohen was the head coach at Northwestern State University from 1998-2001. Cohen spent two seasons as an assistant baseball coach at the University of Florida before becoming the head coach at the University of Kentucky in 2004, a position he held for four seasons before returning to his alma mater.
While winning 284 games as a head coach at MSU, Cohen has demonstrated the ability to develop players and coaches. During his tenure, 135 MSU baseball players have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Two of his assistant coaches at MSU have gone on to head coaching positions at SEC programs.
Cohen has also worked closely with athletic department personnel to promote all facets of the baseball program and raise money for a new state-of-the-art stadium. Eight of the university’s top 10 all-time marks in baseball season ticket sales have come during Cohen’s tenure, including a school record of 5,874 in 2014. He has been a staunch of supporter of MSU’s men’s and women’s athletic programs and has been a valuable resource for the entire athletic department during his time at MSU, earning him the associate athletic director title in July. Now slated to become athletic director, Cohen said he is excited for the opportunity to oversee the continued success of all of MSU’s athletic programs.
Cohen and his wife, Nelle, are active members of the Starkville community. The couple has two daughters, Jordan Baker and Avery Lawson.