By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone has come under fire from Ole Miss fans in recent weeks on several fronts, but Boone has the complete support of his boss.
Speaking with the Daily Journal Tuesday for an upcoming piece on how he views his role with athletics, Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones came out in strong support of Boone.
“There have been views expressed by people who think that a change in athletic leadership would change the trajectory and make things better,” Jones said. “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.”
Ole Miss is coming off a sports year in which it went 4-8 in football and failed to reach the NCAA tournaments in men’s basketball, women’s basketball or baseball. The Rebels also lost to rival Mississippi State in each of those sports.
Boone is under contract through 2014 at an annual salary of $429,287.
He responded to the criticism by citing frustration that naturally accompanies a disappointing year. “I feel strongly about a positive trend for Ole Miss athletics,” he said.
So does Jones.
“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,” he said. “I still have strong confidence in Pete, and the team that he has in athletics.”
Amid the frustration the UMAA Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the athletic department, has received more than $18 million in gifts, an all-time high.
Jones says he doesn’t expect feelings for Boone to negatively impact a major campaign soon to be announced with aims of funding a new basketball arena and expansion of the north end zone of the football stadium.
“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,” Jones said.