Auburn University

John Cohen
Athletics Director

John Cohen

John Cohen, who has more than two decades as a coach and administrator in the Southeastern Conference, was named the 16th Director of Athletics at Auburn University on Oct. 31, 2022. Cohen has spent the previous 14 years at Mississippi State in various capacities, most recently as the athletic director the past six years.

“John has a wealth of experience in college athletics, particularly in the Southeastern Conference and his resume and references are impeccable,” Auburn President Dr. Chris Roberts said. “His leadership and success as a head coach and an athletic director speak for themselves. John will embrace Auburn and be a tremendous leader for our athletics program as we move forward.”

Cohen’s career in college athletics began as a baseball player at Mississippi State before entering the coaching ranks for 25 years that included being a two-time SEC Coach of the Year at State. Named director of athletics at MSU on November 4, 2016, Cohen led the Bulldog program to record-breaking success athletically, academically and in facilities enhancement during his tenure.

“I’m extremely grateful to President Roberts for the opportunity to be the next director of athletics at Auburn University,” Cohen said. “Auburn is an incredibly special place as is demonstrated by the hall of fame coaches and athletes that have been a part of its storied history. I understand the traditions and values at Auburn and look forward to continuing those traditions. I’m humbled and honored to be joining the Auburn family.”

Cohen’s first directive as athletic director was to elevate Rich McGlynn to deputy athletics director where the two will work together to further elevate the Auburn Athletics Department.

Athletically, Cohen oversaw arguably the greatest era in Bulldog athletics history, highlighted by a 2021 College World Series Championship for the school’s first team national title in any sport. A total of five Bulldog programs turned in a program-best season with Cohen at the helm of the department, including softball (2022), baseball (2021), volleyball (2021), soccer (2018) and women’s basketball (2017, 2018).

A nationally respected leader within intercollegiate athletics, Cohen serves on the prestigious 10-member NCAA Division I Baseball Committee as part of a four-year term that began on September 1, 2019. Cohen is one of 16 individuals have played and coached in the College World Series and one of just two among that elite group, who have played, coached and later served as director of athletics for a participating school. He is one of three active SEC athletics director to hire an eventual national championship winning head coach in any sport.

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.

Success shouldn’t come as a surprise as it was never far removed from him during his 12-year run as a head coach in the SEC. His teams were successful both on the field and in the classroom. At MSU, he led the Bulldogs to a College World Series finals appearance, an SEC regular season championship and a SEC Tournament championship. In the classroom upon his arrival in 2009, 133 players were selected to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, including three straight SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year winners from 2013-15.

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.

Following 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 five seasons before returning to his alma mater. Cohen guided the Wildcats to the program’s first SEC championship in 2006 with a remarkable worst-to-first finish in his third season.

While winning 284 games as a head coach at MSU, Cohen demonstrated a keen ability to develop players and coaches. During his tenure, 138 MSU baseball players were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. His influence can be seen throughout the SEC as four of his former assistants are now or have been head coaches — Brad Bohannon (Alabama), Gary Henderson (Kentucky/Mississippi State), Nick Mingione (Kentucky) and Butch Thompson (Auburn).

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 three times as an athletic director (2018, ’19, ’21).