Lett’s appointment as the Gamecocks’ new associate athletics director for external affairs became official Thursday. The Star first reported the news last week.
The former quarterback takes over for retiring David Farrar and starts Feb. 13. Salary details were not disclosed.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be coming home,” Lett said. “It’s special being employed to an institution that gave you so much — all the opportunity, your connections, your life-long friendships. The best time in your life came at Jacksonville State and now I get to work for it.”
Lett’s new job ostensibly is the athletic department’s lead fundraiser, and it goes beyond just selling the remaining 19 open suites in the football stadium.
He’ll be charged with helping raise funding for major facility renovations in tennis, baseball and basketball. He promises a commitment to help all sports at JSU, not just the one to which he is closely connected.
“My ultimate vision is to improve all the facilities to equal what we have in football,” Lett said. “We have the Taj Mahal in football and we definitely need to upgrade everything else … If there’s ever a dream of going to (the FBS level), we have to upgrade those facilities.”
It will come from pressing a lot of flesh, but talking up JSU has never been difficult for Lett, 53.
The Gadsden native changed his mind on an offer to play at Memphis to follow in his brother Doc’s footsteps to JSU and went on to become one of the most prolific passers in Gamecocks football history.
He passed for 7,145 yards and 61 touchdowns – both school records – in his four-year career. In three years as a starter he led the Gamecocks to a 26-8 record, two Gulf South Conference titles and three consecutive trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
He was the GSC Offensive Player of the Year in 1981 and 1982, an All-American both years, and the Alabama Sports Writers Association Amateur Athlete of the Year in 1981, He was inducted into the JSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996 and is on the ballot for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Lett returned to the school to get his degree at 40 and “a second chance at the business world.” He is coming to his new job after 15 years in the medical field, most recently as director of physician business development for two local hospitals.
For the last six years JSU fans have heard him as the second chair on the football broadcasts, a post he expects he’ll have to give up for the responsibilities of his new job. Interest in the analyst’s job has already started to swell although the process of filling that spot has not yet started.
It was Lett’s passion for the school and his contacts with alumni and potential donors that made him such an attractive choice for the job, athletics director Warren Koegel said.
“Obviously, it means a lot,” Koegel said. “It’s great working with people who are passionate about Jacksonville State. Ed loves Jacksonville State and when you get somebody who’s really excited to be there, it makes a difference.”
Lett’s plans include embracing the players of his and his brother’s eras. He also hopes to reestablish some connections with the Burgess Boys, players of former JSU coach Bill Burgess who campaigned for years -- sometimes bitterly -- to have their coach’s name established on the football facility.
At least one close friend and former teammate believes the hiring of Lett is a huge move for the athletic department.
“Now we have a true bona fide Gamecock in there,” former JSU receiver Fran Blanchard said. “I know you can come over from other schools, but this makes a big difference to us guys who played with Ed and went to (JSU). It’s like Jana (McGinnis) being on the softball side.
“It’s somebody who’s been there, done that, been on the playing field with them. To have Ed in there, it sends shivers down my spine I’m so excited. It gives us all a bigger voice for Jacksonville State athletics.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.