Moving Forward Together

It was a monetary gift, but it was much more than that. Sure, this was about money, but it was also about commitment.

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And it was about loyalty and love and the future. And, yes, even the past.

None of the above can be separated when a moment like this comes along. The M-Club Alumni Chapter of The Ole Miss Alumni Association announced a donation of $1 million to the Forward Together campaign at the M-Club Weekend.

It was clearly a moment that a lot of people were pleased to be a part of, including Sara Davidson. Some of you know her. Many of you don't. Her late husband, J.W. "Wobble" Davidson, was a famous former Ole Miss student-athlete, better known to later generations as an assistant football coach, with most of his time coaching spent during the John Vaught era.

Sara still lives in the house she and Wobble shared near the Square in Oxford. Wobble appropriately named their home "The Fourth Quarter." There's a plaque on the house with that inscription.

M-Club Alumni Chapter President Broc Kreitz, board member George Lotterhos
Clay Cavett

When Wobble Davidson talked, people listened. His life was an inscription. Just ask those who knew him.

He was tough, they say. Really tough. But he was fair, they also quickly add.

He left such an indelible impression on those associated with him through Ole Miss athletics that the M-Club Alumni Chapter's Scholarship Fund is named for him and has been for years.

When Sara spoke Saturday to the M-Club alumni members, which included many of Wobble's former pupils, they also listened.

She talked of his commitment to Ole Miss and to the M-Club. She talked of how one of his most important goals was always to help turn boys into men. She said he was watching from above and liking what he sees as the M-Club Alumni Chapter continues to flourish and is able to make such a gift to Ole Miss.

What everyone is seeing, among other things, is a uniting of the Ole Miss alumni and fan base around a new athletics director, Ross Bjork, and a new head football coach, Hugh Freeze. George Lotterhos, past president of the M-Club Alumni Chapter and current board member, said the hope is that much more comes of this than just their one major gift.

Sara Davidson
Clay Cavett

"Ole Miss has done a lot for us. We want to set an example for other alumni groups, for other individuals out there who can afford to make a strong contribution," Lotterhos said. "We hope a lot more comes out of this than just the $1 million dollars we have pledged."

While there's much more to the sports lineup at Ole Miss than just football, many, and likely the majority gathered, were former football players. Broc Kreitz, who played football for the Rebels from 1993-97, is the current president of the M-Club Alumni Chapter. He understands, as well as anyone, what Ole Miss football is going through as it rebuilds and why their gift will help.

"It's going to be a difficult transition. It's not going to be a cakewalk," said Kreitz, who came to Ole Miss as a student just as the Rebels were soon to receive major sanctions for NCAA violations. "I still remember it as clear as day. We had the sanctions against us. It was a tough everything. It built a lot of character in that group of players."

Kreitz said the formula when he played for the Rebels during some difficult times is what it should be now for the players.

"We cared about Ole Miss. We wanted to win. And we cared about one another," he said.

Bjork said this particular gift is a headliner, not only locally but nationally.

"It speaks to the pride the former athletes have for Ole Miss athletics," he said. "In college athletics this is really a historic type gift. These things don't happen very often where you have a letterwinners club give back in a seven-figure manner. This is a national news story for college athletics that this organization would give back like this."

M-Club Alumni members Jesse Mitchell, Keil Purdom, John "Kayo" Dottley, and AD Ross Bjork
Clay Cavett

Kreitz said now is the perfect time to make it happen.

"We'd been talking about doing this for a couple of years," he said. "We've been blessed. We have the money. And we want to give to Ole Miss. We all came to the agreement we wanted to give something big. And we did."

Bjork said this moment continues to send the message he's been saying since he arrived to lead Ole Miss athletics this spring.

"It just speaks volumes that we've got energy, we've got excitement, we've got unity," he said. "We've got all the things we've been talking about."

Kreitz said the leadership is now in place, and it's up to everyone to follow.

"You just have to give them something to unite around," he said. "The greatest thing about this (gift) was that it was unanimous. Not one person on the board, voting member or non-voting member, said no."

Ole Miss, with gifts like this, is hearing "yes" more and more now with each passing day.

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