Bjork has big plans for Ole Miss

Published 11:27 am Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork has been on the job eight days, but already he has seen a good bit of Mississippi on the 16-stop Rebel Road Trip Bus Tour.

Tuesday, the stop was at the Vicksburg Convention Center which included new Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones and new football coach Hugh Freeze.

At 39, Bjork is the youngest athletic director in the Southeastern Conference. His youthful vigor seems to be a good fit for what Ole Miss needs.

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“We came here with a special message and that is there is new excitement at Ole Miss,” Bjork said.

Bjork came to Ole Miss after a stint as the athletic director at Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Conference. Within his first two days, he hired a new women’s basketball coach by hiring Adrian Wiggins away from Fresno State. Now, Bjork’s biggest order of new business is to gather additional funding for a new basketball arena to replace the ‘Tad Pad’ — the Tad Smith Coliseum.

“We’ve got to raise some more money,” Bjork said. “We need another $15 million, but we feel on this campaign, we will be successful. We hope to break ground in the summer of 2013. With a two-year construction frame, we should have a new arena in 2015.”

Having a new basketball facility is a big part of the plan to make Ole Miss able to compete for championships.

“We have a vision for

success,” Bjork said. “ At my first staff meeting, I told our coaches that the two things we can control is our attitude and our effort. We plan to outwork the competition.”

Chancellor Jones likes the direction his new athletic director is going.

“Well, I think Archie Manning and Mike Glenn did a great job in getting us Ross Bjork,” said Jones, a Vicksburg native and a Warren Central graduate. “We want to win championships at Ole Miss. Some real special things are happening on campus and that includes beginning work on a new basketball arena.”

Manning, an Ole Miss legend at quarterback and the father of NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, along with Glenn, the CEO of Federal Express, were the pivotal members of a committee empowered to hire a new athletic director to replace Pete Boone and a new football coach to replace Houston Nutt.

Bjork said he while he loved his job at Western Kentucky, Ole Miss represented a special opportunity.

“I had a great job, but I knew this job was life changing,” Bjork said. “I feel Ole Miss has so many assets. We have $125 million in athletic facilities and that includes the best collegiate baseball facility in the nation and one of the best basketball practice facilities, one which rivals the University of Kentucky.”