State of the Rebel Union

Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork had some interesting tidbits when he addressed members of the media at Coach Hugh Freeze's first press conference of the 2015 football season.

Want new lights in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium?

On the way for the 2016 season. . . .

Want to keep building at Ole Miss and in Rebel athletics?

$400 million worth is going on right now. . .

Want the highest grade point average of nearly 400 student-athletes in the history of the school?

2.90 GPA for the 2014-15 school year. . . .

"The momentum here on campus and in Oxford is incredible. There's probably never been a better time to be an Ole Miss Rebel and to be a part of this community," said Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork.

"There is growth everywhere and we will set another enrollment record for student population. Alumni membership is up, fundraising for the entire university is up, ticket sales are up and our athletic budget has gone from $57 million in 2011-2012 to $96 million."

And there's more, much more.

"We have extended our Nike contract for 12 years," he said. "We were getting $1.9 million in product under the old contract and now we are getting nearly double that. This is just another example of our increased financial position that allows us to do more for athletes than ever before.

"In 2015-2016, we will spend $78,000 per student-athlete on direct benefits for their experience here. We have 378 student athletes and will spend around $30 million on them to get the best of everything."

Facilities-wise, Bjork had more good news.

"The Pavilion is on track to open January 7, 2016. The Plaza between The Pavilion and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will have a food court in the North lobby and there will be a technology hub there as well for students and fans," he continued. "We will also have the largest hung video board in the nation, 12 feet by 24 feet on four sides, double what is in Tad Smith now.

"We will also have new video boards for baseball and softball. Those will be installed this winter. Soccer will have a video board as well as well as the new track facility."

As an extension/continuation of The Walk of Champions, there is a letter winners walk that will be near the stadium. All 7,000 letter winners in the history of Ole Miss in every sport will be listed on a columned area near the stadium.

"We need to do a better job of showcasing our history and those who came before us," he continued.

The South End Zone renovation is almost complete as well as the renovation of the press box and West Side skyboxes.

"The finishing touches are underway and will be done by the opener Saturday and our parking garage is finally open for business," Bjork added. "When this season ends, we will start on the North End zone expansion and bring our capacity to 64,038 including 2,000 more for the students. There will also be three new video boards in the stadium, a new sound system and new lights," Ross explained.

"Vaught-Hemingway will return to natural grass surface for the 2016 season. One of our outdoor practice fields will be artificial turf as well as the indoor field. That means we will not have a Grove Bowl in VH Stadium next spring. Natural grass is the preferred surface of our players and coaches. The cost is a wash between natural grass and artificial turf."

Last, but not least, for the Vandy game, the Rebs will wear the Powder Blue helmets.

"That will be for prostate cancer research," he closed. "Powder blue is the same colors as the prostate cancer campaign."


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