OXFORD – Keith Carter’s first act as athletics director in determining policy and direction for Ole Miss came swiftly.
He gave a strong vote of confidence to Rebels football coach Matt Luke.
Minutes after he was presented by chancellor Glenn Boyce Carter was asked his opinion of the football program and whether he’d made any decisions about personnel.
The Rebels play their regular season finale Thursday at Mississippi State. Depending on how bowl bids go for available 6-6 teams Ole Miss, currently 4-7, could work its way into postseason with a win over MSU.
“I think our football program is headed in a great direction. I’m so excited about coach Luke. He’s our coach, and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity we have next week in Starkville. We’re excited about where recruiting is and excited about where the future is headed. We’re going to get behind coach Luke, and we’re going to try to get after the Bulldogs next week and get to that fifth win,” Carter said.
An athletics department employee since 2009 Carter has cut his teeth in fund-raising. He spoke of the relationships he’s built, the importance of continuing those and building new ones.
Mike Glenn, the chairman of the AD search committee appointed by Boyce, expressed confidence in Carter all-around and in working with coaches specifically.
Though Kermit Davis, the Rebels’ second-year basketball coach was hired on by former athletics director Ross Bjork, Glenn said Carter was heavily involved behind the scenes.
Davis led Ole Miss to the NCAA Tournament in his first season and has the Rebels 4-0 going into Saturday’s game at No. 16 Memphis.
“Keith’s already demonstrated a pretty good track record in hiring coaches in hiring Kermit Davis. His role in attracting coach Davis to our university was instrumental. That’s a pretty good start right there,” Glenn said.
Glenn said he was told by Todd Turner, the president of Collegiate Sports Associates, the firm hired to assist the committee with the search, “It’s a good thing you hired (Carter) because I would have had him placed within six months.”
Carter’s promotion gives Ole Miss employees at chancellor, football coach and athletics director all with strong ties to the school.
Boyce’s own early October appointment by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees was met with several days of protests including a campus introduction that was ultimately suspended and completed with a conference call.
That experience did not color Boyce’s consideration of Carter.
“That did not give me any pause, and I will tell you why, because I put together a committee that I thought was exceptional, people who loved Ole Miss and were connected to the athletic world. That process ran flawlessly,” Boyce said.
In fact, Carter’s experiences and understanding of Ole Miss may have been among his chief assets.
“We wanted a leader who wants to be at Ole Miss and believes all of our programs can compete and win at the highest levels,” Boyce said.