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Mt. Pleasant selected McKeesport and Clarion graduate Eckels as their new AD

Mt. Pleasant employed James “J.J.” Eckels on Wednesday night to be the district’s full-time athletic director.

Mt. Pleasant employed James "J.J." Eckels on Wednesday night as the district's permanent athletic director.

Allan Bilinsky and Bob Gumbita have been sharing the AD responsibilities since Chris Brunson resigned from the position in 2022.

Eckels will officially assume his role on July 1.

A graduate of McKeesport, Eckels obtained a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Mercyhurst after completing his studies at Clarion. Despite having limited administrative experience, he has been involved in college football for the past ten years, and Mt. Pleasant appreciates his leadership.

“His experience translates well across different areas,” Bilinsky said.

Bilinsky and Gumbita will guide and support Eckels until he takes charge.

Most recently, Eckels was an assistant coach on Aaron Smetanka’s staff at Saint Vincent from 2022-23.

He also served as an assistant at Mercyhurst from 2014-21 and as a graduate assistant at Frostburg State from 2013-14.

At McKeesport, he was an exceptional quarterback who led the Tigers in the 2005 PIAA 4A championship game.

He played as a safety at Clarion, where he was a four-year starter.

He graduated from Clarion with dual majors in corporate finance and monetary economics.

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