In a tumultuous series of events, the University of Mississippi has ended their “search” for a new athletic director, naming the interim, Keith Carter, the now permanent athletic director, per Brian Scott Rippee of SportsTalk Mississippi.
The Arkansas native has been in the athletic department offices since 2009 when he joined as Executive Director for the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. There, he was an integral part of the Foundation experiencing its four highest years for donations, including a record $45.6 million in cash contributions in 2015-16.
Under Carter’s watch, donations to the Forward Together campaign increased from $62 to $180.8 million in cash, inching ever-so-close to their goal of $200 million. He also had a hand in Ole Miss basketball’s practice facility, Tuohy Basketball Center, being named in honor of the former Rebel and he was part of the crew that made the $96.5 million The Pavilion at Ole Miss happen.
But, look, we’re not here to debate the former Rebel basketball All-SEC representative’s ability to raise money for athletics or to actually do his job. The thing here is that the optics are terrible here after yet another “national” search. First, you claim you do a national search for your head football coach, only to name the interim. Then, you claim to do a national search in order to replace Ross Bjork and you not only name a familiar name but it was who HEADED UP THE SEARCH.
And now, after another “national” search, you name the interim once again.
Sources told the Cup that Ole Miss had interviewed several “outside-the-box” candidates:
- Jon Gilbert - ECU athletic director
- Tommy McClelland - Louisiana Tech athletic director
- Patrick Kraft - Temple athletic director
But, oh no, Boyce and the leadership at Ole Miss went with the classic Friday news dump to hire their pal, Keith.
This was never a shock to anyone, but the thing to keep an eye on now is what will Carter do with Matt Luke’s contract. Last season after getting within eight innings of Omaha for the College World Series, Carter chose not to rollover Mike Bianco’s contract, seemingly because he fell below expectations.
Now, with Matt Luke is staring another potential 5-7 season in the face in year three what will Carter do? Will he be tough on him like he was on Bianco and turn up the heat for 2020? Or will he rollover literally and figuratively and give in to pressure from the boosters and the rest of leadership to rollover their pal, Luke, and keep him as head football coach for the foreseeable future despite spinning his proverbial wheels at the starting line?
I think I know the answer, but we’ll find out soon enough. And, hey, Keith could turn out to be a pretty good athletic director, who knows? The issue that I along with you I’m sure is that once again we were all duped into thinking that a legitimate search and interview process was conducted.
Welcome to the Sunken Place, everyone, better get comfortable.