Southern Miss has a long history in the NCAA, and its intercollegiate sports teams operate under the auspices of the university's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics sponsors. Bowl games, conference championships, and All-American athletes have all been frequent occurrences at Southern Miss. Among notable alumni are former NFL quarterback Brett Favre and former NFL punter Ray Guy.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles football team participates as a member of Conference USA and plays its home games in M.M. Roberts Stadium. In 2008, after 17 years at the helm of the USM Football program, Jeff Bower was replaced by Larry Fedora. The football team won two College Division national championships (as Mississippi Southern College, in 1958 and 1962), and won three of the first four Conference USA titles. Through the 2011 season, Southern Miss has posted 16 consecutive winning seasons. The program has had three undefeated seasons overall, including a 9–0 season in 1958. Thirty All-Americans have played for Southern Miss, including 12 first-team selections, and a number of players have moved on to the National Football League, most notably Dawg Pound creator and three time consecutive Pro-bowler Hanford Dixon, NFL Team of the Century punter Ray Guy and three-time NFL MVP Brett Favre.
The Lady Eagles also have a storied history. With 10 postseason appearances, the women's program is the most proficient at Southern Miss. In those 10 appearances, they have made the NCAA Tournament 8 times advancing to the Sweet 16 in 1994. The team has had two All-Americans including Janice Felder in 1994. In 2014–2015 season the Lady Eagles advanced to the 2015 WNIT Elite 8 vs Michigan, which was the best postseason run in history. An attendance record was set in lady eagle history on March 29, 2015 when 5,480 spectators watched Southern Miss vs Michigan.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles baseball team made its first ever appearance in the College World Series in 2009.
Eagle Fever, Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. and Go Gold! are the rallying cries that Golden Eagle students and fans have used to help create such traditions as Homecoming and EagleFest, tailgating in The District, Friday Night at the Fountain pep rallies, the Eagle Walk at The Rock, the game-day Eagle Walk parade, the Painting of the Eagle Walk, the Junior Eagle Club Tunnel, the band's Fifth Quarter Concert, featuring a hallmark rendition of Amazing Grace.
The first athletic teams were called Tigers or Normalites. In 1924, the mascot was changed to the Yellow Jackets. In April 1940, the student body of the newly renamed Mississippi Southern College voted to name the teams Confederates; the name was changed to the Southerners in 1941. General Nat (named for Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest) became the Southerners' mascot in 1953; his horse was named Son of Dixie.