By The Associated Press
OXFORD — Ole Miss chancellor Dr. Dan Jones says in a letter to alumni that he won’t be pressured into firing athletic director Pete Boone.
Jones said Thursday that he’s committed to athletic excellence and will not succumb to “anonymous, malicious and public attacks” demanding Boone be fired.
Boone and football coach Houston Nutt have been under pressure after a 1-3 start to the season. A mostly anonymous group called Forward Rebels has taken out several full-page ads in Mississippi newspapers demanding changes in the Ole Miss administration.
Jones says he has received threats saying if he doesn’t make changes, “It is going to get real ugly.”
Jones says he evaluates Boone’s performance regularly, but would not “engage in any sort of review in response to a public campaign to force his removal.”
The text of the letter …
Office of the Chancellor
University, MS 38677-1848
Dear Ole Miss Family,
The Ole Miss Creed begins: “The University of Mississippi is a community of learning dedicated to nurturing excellence in intellectual inquiry and personal character in an open and diverse environment. As a voluntary member of this community, I believe in respect for the dignity of each person; I believe in fairness and civility.”
These words say a lot about who we are as a university family. They establish that the excellence we seek in all aspects of university life rests on respect, dignity, fairness, and civility, and that we come together as a community. Further, we commit to being open with one another and valuing personal character. These words represent important Ole Miss values. Robust debates and disagreements always have taken place at institutions such as Ole Miss. The current controversy in athletics has gone beyond that.
Many are aware of anonymous, malicious and public attacks on athletics director Pete Boone. The Ole Miss family may not be aware, however, that as a part of this orchestrated campaign, I have received threats, promising that if I do not remove Pete Boone, “It is going to get real ugly,” and threatening to expand the attacks to other athletics employees.
Friends, supporters and the media have asked how I will react to this anonymous and vicious pressure. The short answer is that I will not react.
To maintain accreditation, the university must remain “free from undue influence from political, religious and other external bodies.” I would be less than the chancellor Ole Miss needs if I reacted to these polarizing tactics employed by anonymous critics. To do so would not only threaten the university’s accreditation, but it also would impair future university leaders by encouraging others to use such tactics to achieve personal, political or unsavory agendas or to harm the university.
As a university, we are committed to excellence in all things—including athletics. I regularly review the performance of all those who report to me, including Mr. Boone. But I cannot and will not engage in any sort of review in response to a public campaign to force his removal.
A debate worthy of attention is about who we are as a university family. Will we remain civil, reasonable people? Will we respect the dignity of each person? I believe we will. We know what our values are.
The current campaign against the university and its athletic leadership is uncivil. It is not in the spirit of the Ole Miss family. It hinders the goals set forth in the Creed and is not in the interest of our university. I call on those involved in the campaign to stop, and I call on every person who loves Ole Miss to denounce it in every way possible.
Dan Jones, Chancellor
The University of Mississippi