I visited with Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones for about a half hour earlier this morning.
Jones isn’t in the public view regarding athletics as much as his predecessor, Robert Khayat, who was a former Ole Miss and professional football player.
I’ll have more on Jones and how he views his role with the athletics department in the coming days, but here are a few highlights as Jones – who became chancellor on July 1, 2009 – responds to a news cycle earlier this summer in which athletics director Pete Boone felt compelled to respond to fans who were critical of his job performance.
Jones on Boone’s experience: “I had the luxury of joining the university with a very experienced athletic director, one who had made lots of hard decisions, one who had made lots of good decisions.”
Jones acknowledges frustration for the sports year and responds to Boone’s critics: “Some of that has been expressed by people who think that a change in athletic leadership would change the trajectory of that and would make things better. I understand the passion that people have in their desire to see us do better. I have responded to some of that communication in a number of ways. One of the things that I’ve said to several people is that if I felt that changing leadership in athletics would help us achieve championships faster I would be happy to make that decision. It’s my responsibility to make that decision. I do select the athletic administration, but at this time I remain convinced that this last year was an anomaly. The trajectory of athletics in terms of the type people we have as head coaches, the progress in facilities, the progress in creating financial infrastructure to lead to success, the progress in private support, the progress in attendance, all of these, the long-term trajectory is in the right direction. I still have strong confidence in Pete, and the team that he has in athletics.”
Jones says he doesn’t believe feelings for Boone will negatively impact the upcoming fund-raising campaign: “I am confident that when a strong plan is brought forward for the next steps in growing our facilities in athletics that just as loyal Ole Miss supporters in the past have responded positively and have helped us achieve progress that people will respond positively again. Will there be some who could give, who are unhappy with Pete who won’t give because of that? I’m sure, but does that mean we won’t be successful in achieving our goals under Pete’s leadership? Absolutely not.”