- Ross Bjork, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics
Ross Bjork and his wife, Sonya, have two boys: Payton (11) and Paxton (7). Bjork was announced on March 21, 2012 as the seventh full-time Director of Athletics at Ole Miss and, at the time, was the youngest AD among power five conference institutions. In October 2016, he was named the university’s first Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics. His six-year tenure with the Rebels has produced a new spirit surrounding Ole Miss Athletics.
Upon his arrival, Bjork reorganized the external relations structure of the department, headlined by a new partnership with multi-media rightsholder, IMG Properties, and the rebranding of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. He also created the unit for Health and Sports Performance, which combined sports medicine, strength and conditioning, nutrition and counseling services and added a local orthopedic sports medicine component that provides primary sports medicine care for all student-athletes. In addition, he appointed executive level administrators for academic support, finance and facilities/game operations.
Bjork’s vision in facilities has transformed the athletics footprint on campus. The basketball programs moved into the nation’s finest new arena in January 2016 with the opening of the $94.5 million Pavilion at Ole Miss. More than $65 million was infused into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium including a new north end zone, new field club, new and renovated suites, natural grass playing surface, new sound system, new lights, new entry plazas, and three new video boards. All of these enhancements improved on what was already one of the best gameday experiences in college football while increasing capacity by approximately 4,000. A development plan for the Manning Center saw the facility renamed to honor Olivia and Archie Manning while undergoing a $12.5 million renovation and expansion. A $13 million overhaul of the Gillom Center was completed in 2017, a new $11 million indoor tennis facility opened in January, and a $20 million baseball project will be concluded this year.
Ole Miss has enjoyed unprecedented support under Bjork. Football season attendance records have been shattered over the last six seasons, while season ticket sales reached four straight sellouts. Baseball finished second in the nation in attendance in 2017, extending a streak of 12 straight seasons in the top five, while softball also experienced a record-breaking year for attendance in 2017. The athletics budget has risen from $57 to $113 million in just five years, and the Athletics Foundation established a record year for donations with $45.6 million in cash contributions in 2015-16. The Forward Together capital campaign has risen from $62 to $175 million in cash and pledges toward its increased goal of $200 million.
Bjork’s leadership has translated to tremendous success in the competitive arena. The Rebels achieved their highest Director’s Cup finish in their history in 2016-17 at 39th among Division I institutions. In 2015-16, Ole Miss was the nation’s only school to win nine regular-season football games, 20 regular-season men’s basketball games and 40 regular-season baseball games, while the 2014-15 campaign saw the Rebels as one of only two to make a “New Year’s Six” bowl and the NCAA Tournament in men’s hoops and baseball. Under Bjork’s watch, the football team was one of just five to make the “New Year’s Six” in each of the first two years of the playoff.
Other highlights include the first College World Series appearance in 42 years, as the baseball team reached the final four in Omaha and captured the SEC Western Division title in 2014. After a 10-year absence, men’s basketball has advanced in the NCAA Tournament twice in the last five seasons, including 2013 when it claimed the SEC Tournament Championship. Softball claimed its first SEC Tournament title in the spring and made its second straight trip to the Big Dance after missing postseason each of its first 19 years of existence. Baseball, men’s hoops and softball are among Rebel programs to earn NCAA berths under Bjork’s watch, along with soccer (Sweet 16 in 2015), men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s track and women’s track.
Bjork’s reign has featured six national championships, including the first golf medalist with Braden Thornberry in 2017. Sam Kendricks took home the pole vault title at both the 2013 and 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Raven Saunders won the 2016 outdoor and 2017 indoor crowns in the shotput, and the distance medley team captured 2017 indoor medalist honors. The 2013 SEC West champion men’s tennis team also vied for a national title, as the doubles team of Nic Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen advanced to the final four while the team finished top-10 in the polls. The men’s track program has reached new heights, finishing fourth in the nation in cross country in 2016 and eighth at the outdoor championships in 2013.
Off the field, Bjork established the goal of a cumulative 3.0 GPA among the student-athlete population when he arrived, and the Rebels achieved that for the first time in program history in 2015-16 and have since maintained the 3.0 mark. In the community, student-athletes are participating in more than 50 service projects per year, and baseball student-athlete Brady Bramlett has served as Vice-Chair of the NCAA Division Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Throughout his career, Bjork has placed a great importance on diversity, and in 2013, the athletics department partnered with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation to launch a community engagement week, which has become an annual event.
Bjork has taken a leadership role in the Oxford/University community since his arrival. He is a member of the chancellor’s leadership team and has served on numerous committees, including the search for a new chancellor and the naming of Chucky Mullins Drive. Bjork has traveled the region each spring speaking to alumni clubs on the Rebel Road Trip and visited more than 20,000 fans in the first six years of the caravan. His commitment to the fanbase has also shown through gameday surveys and annual improvements to help maintain Ole Miss as the premier “bucket list” experience in college sports.
Bjork arrived in Oxford after a stint as Director of Athletics at Western Kentucky University, where he quickly established an atmosphere of success. After Bjork made a midseason coaching change, the Hilltopper men’s basketball team went on to capture the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Women’s Volleyball won the conference regular season and tournament in 2011 and reached the NCAA tournament each of his last two years, while men’s and women’s cross country each won conference team titles in 2011. WKU’s football program posted the greatest one-season improvement in conference wins in the history of the Sun Belt in posting a 7-1 league mark and second-place conference finish. WKU football also signed the conference’s top recruiting class each of his last two seasons.
During his tenure, each of WKU’s men’s and women’s athletic teams exceeded the NCAA required 925 Academic Progress Report Rate (APR), and WKU had more individuals honored for their academic achievements by the Sun Belt Conference than any other institution in 2011-12. For the first time in program history, the overall cumulative average GPA was over 3.0 for all 391 student-athletes and 228 maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Ten of the university’s 15 athletic programs posted a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or better.
The youngest athletics director of the 120 NCAA FBS programs when hired at WKU, Bjork has an extensive career in intercollegiate athletics with more than two decades of experience as an administrator and student-athlete, having worked on the senior staffs at UCLA, the University of Miami and the University of Missouri. He began his administrative career at WKU as an Assistant Development Coordinator in 1996-97.
Bjork, 46, is a native of Dodge City, Kan., and received his bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from Emporia State University in 1995 where he was a two-year starter at fullback. Bjork was honored by Emporia State with the 2017 distinguished alumni award. He earned a master’s degree in athletic administration from Western Illinois University in December 1996. Bjork has quickly established a leadership role in the SEC by serving as Chair of the awards committee and representing the SEC on NCAA men’s basketball oversight committee and the NCAA transfer working group.
The Bjork File
Hometown: Dodge City, Kan.
High School: Dodge City Senior High School
College: Emporia State University (B.S., Recreation Administration, 1995); Western Illinois University (M.S., Athletic Administration, 1996)
Children: Sons, Payton Ross (11) and Paxton Ross (7)
Bjork’s Career Timeline
2012-Present: Ole Miss, Director of Athletics/Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics
2010-12: Western Kentucky University, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
2005-10: UCLA, Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations
2003-05: University of Miami, Associate Athletic Director for External Operations
2001-03: University of Missouri, Assistant Athletic Director for Development
1997-2001: University of Missouri, Athletic Development Officer
1996-97: Western Kentucky University, Assistant Development Coordinator
1995-96: Western Illinois University, Campus Recreation Grad. Asst./Ath. Dept. Volunteer
1995: University of Tulsa, Marketing Intern
1994: Albuquerque Dukes, Front Office Intern
- Keith Carter, Deputy A.D. for Development & Resource Acquisition/ Executive Director
Former Ole Miss Basketball All-American Keith Carter was named Deputy Athletics Directors for Development and Resource Acquisition in February 2018. He serves as the Chief Revenue Officer for the athletics department while continuing to oversee the Foundation and serve as the sport administrator for baseball and men’s basketball.
Carter rejoined the athletics department in September 2009 and has served as Executive Director for the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation since June 2012. He received the 2016 Fundraiser of the Year Award from the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD).
Under Carter’s guidance, the Foundation has experienced its seven highest years for donations, including a record $45.6 million in cash contributions in 2015-16, and a total of $219 million in cash over the past eight years. During his tenure, commitments to the Forward Together campaign have increased from $62 to $175 million in cash and pledges toward its goal of $200 million.
Among the major gifts is a donation of $25 million, which is the largest gift in the history of Ole Miss Athletics. Carter is also responsible for multiple other seven-figure gifts including several tied to the naming of facilities. He has worked with other executive level staff to build the vision for facility growth through the Forward Together campaign, which included plans for the $95 million Pavilion at Ole Miss, $65 million into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, $13 million toward the Gillom Athletics Performance Center, $11 million toward a new indoor tennis facility, and $20 million into Oxford-University Stadium enhancements.
Carter joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation after spending the previous year with the UM Foundation, where he worked in donor relations and meeting the financial needs of the School of Business.
He continues to serve with the Ole Miss Radio Network as the color analyst for Rebel hoops games alongside play-by-play announcer David Kellum. Carter joined the Ole Miss Radio Network prior to the 2008-09 season.
A four-year starter at Ole Miss, Carter helped the Rebels to a pair of Southeastern Conference Western Division titles in 1997 and 1998 and earned All-America honors after his senior season in 1999. The four-year starter received All-SEC first and second team honors in 1998 and 1999. He also won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. national team at the 1998 Goodwill Games. Carter played professional basketball in Italy from 2001 until 2008.
A native of Perryville, Arkansas, Carter lives in Oxford with his wife, Jill, and three children – Drew, Callie and Hayes.
Annual Giving Staff
- Wesley Owen, Associate A.D. for Resource Development
Wesley Owen joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in May 2018 as Associate Athletics Director of Resource Development. Wesley’s responsibilities include overseeing annual giving and the ticket office.
Wesley has been with Ole Miss Athletics since June 2005, when he started with the athletics ticket office. Wesley was previously had oversight of the athletics ticket office before joining the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation.
Wesley graduated with a B.A. in Biochemistry and a B.S. in Forensic Chemistry from Ole Miss in 2005. Wesley is a native of Batesville, MS.
- Stu Sutton, Associate Director of Development
Stuart Sutton joined the Ole Miss Athletic Foundation in March of 2014 and was elevated to his current position in July of 2016. Stu is responsible for assisting with fundraising efforts of annual giving, car dealer program, student program, priority seating and the current Forward Together capital campaign.
Prior to Ole Miss, Sutton worked for the Crimson Tide Foundation within the University of Alabama Athletic Department as a graduate student. His responsibilities included assisting with the Sewell Thomas baseball renovation, annual fund, stewardship, external events and lettermen communication. In addition, Sutton has worked for the University of Illinois Football program and Athletic Department as a student assistant. His internship experience includes Vanderbilt University Marketing Department, University of Alabama’s Marketing/Sales Department and UA Ticket Office along with the Chicago Bears Football Club.
A native of Bourbonnais, IL, Sutton earned his Master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Alabama in May 2014. Sutton earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also received his Private Pilot License from Southern Illinois University and was a member of the Varsity baseball team at Illinois State University from 2008-09. Sutton is married to the former Jenna Sunderland of Bloomington, IL.
- Anne Threlkeld, Associate Director of Development
Anne Threlkeld joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in January of 2015 as Assistant Director of Development and was elevated to her current position as Associate Director of Development in January of 2017. Anne’s responsibilities include assisting in the fundraising efforts of annual giving and priority seating, as well as managing the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s communications and donor relations.
Anne comes to Ole Miss after working in the Alexander-Tharpe Fund in the Georgia Tech Athletics Association, first as an intern, then as a Development Assistant. While working at Georgia Tech, she earned her Master’s in Kinesiology- Sport Management from the University of Georgia.
Anne was a member of the Rebel track and cross country teams from 2009-2013, was a 4-year letterwinner, and is a school record holder in the DMR. Anne graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi in the Spring of 2013 with bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Anne grew up in Oxford, MS and is a lifelong Rebel fan. Her parents are both professors at Ole Miss.
- JJ Eftink, Assistant Director of DevelopmentEMAIL JJ
JJ Eftink joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in August of 2015 as Development Assistant and was elevated to his current role in August of 2016. JJ’s responsibilities include assisting in the fundraising efforts of annual giving and priority seating for football, basketball, and baseball.
Prior to joining the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation JJ worked with the Ole Miss Basketball program as a student manager. During his time with the program JJ was an integral part of 2013 SEC Championship and 2 NCAA appearances in 2013 and 2015.
JJ graduated with a degree in Park and Recreation Management and with a minor in Therapeutic Recreation from Ole Miss in 2013. He is a native of Oxford, MS.
- Brady Bramlett, Assistant Director of DevelopmentEMAIL BRADY
Brady Bramlett joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in August of 2016 as External Relations Assistant and was elevated to his current position in October of 2017. Brady’s responsibilities are assisting in all aspects of the Foundation including annual fund, major gifts, special projects, game day functions, and special events.
Brady also serves as the current Chair of the NCAA Division I National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, as well as a member of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. Along with that, he represents the SEC as a voting member within the Autonomy, Power 5 Conferences.
Brady was a pitcher for the Rebel baseball team from 2013-2016, was a 3-year letterwinner, drafted by the Oakland Athletic’s in 2015, then drafted again by the Boston Red Sox in 2016, and is one of few Rebel pitchers to have 20 career wins on the mound. Brady graduated from the University of Mississippi in the spring of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and is now pursuing his master’s in integrated marketing communications. Brady grew up in Bartlett, TN a Rebel fan. He is the son of Bobby and Amy Bramlett, and brother of Bryson Bramlett.
- Hailey Gilleland, Assistant Director of DevelopmentEMAIL HAILEY
Hailey Gilleland joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in January of 2018 as Assistant Director of Development. Hailey’s responsibilities are assisting in the fundraising efforts of annual giving and priority seating for football, basketball, and baseball.
Hailey comes to Ole Miss from Cougar Pride and The University of Houston Athletics where she worked as the Assistant Director of Development for Internal Operations and Stewardship. Prior to her time at Houston Hailey spent the 2016-2017 season with Duke University Athletics/The Iron Dukes as a Development Assistant for Major Gifts and the Iron Dukes Annual Fund; and the 2015-16 season working in the NFL for the Washington Redskins Community Relations Department and Charitable Foundation.
Hailey grew up in Lakewood Colorado and is a graduate of the University of Alabama where she was a member of the Crimson Tide’s Rowing program.
- Da'Ron Brown, Development Assistant
Major Giving Staff
- Matt Mossberg, Associate A.D. for Development
Matt Mossberg re-joined the Ole Miss athletics foundation staff in July of 2015. After spending three years at the University at Buffalo, including one as Assistant AD for Development/Major Gifts, Mossberg returned to his alma mater as the Associate AD for Development overseeing Major Gifts.
While at UB, Mossberg served as Director of Development for Major Gifts before being promoted to Assistant AD for Development/Gifts in 2014. In that role, Mossberg directed UB’s Major Gifts team and served as a member of the athletic department’s senior staff.
A native of Costa Mesa, California, Mossberg spent over a decade in various rolls at Ole Miss prior to making the move to Buffalo. He started as a student-athlete, playing baseball for the Rebels from 2000-03 before returning as the Director of Baseball Operations in 2006. After serving as an administrator and coach for five seasons, Mossberg made the transition to Major Gifts Officer for Ole Miss Athletics Foundation where he brought in several major gifts as part of the Forward Together campaign.
During his time on the diamond as an assistant coach, Mossberg was an integral part of the success of the Rebels which garnered several NCAA berths resulting in two regionals, two super regionals and a 2009 SEC Championship.
A four-year letter winner for the Rebels, Mossberg also helped lead the Rebels to two postseason appearances in the 2001 NCAA Regional at Tulane and the 2003 NCAA Regional at Rice. The center fielder was known for his defense, but also hit .306 for his career with 24 RBI and notched 24 steals in his career.
After earning his B.S. degree in Exercise Science from Ole Miss in 2003, Mossberg earned his M.A. in Sports Management from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa in 2008.
Mossberg is married to the former Cheryl Wilson of Birmingham, Alabama, who played volleyball for Ole Miss from 2000-02. The couple have three sons: Jack, Pete, and Roy.
- Michael Paulus, Assistant A.D. for Development
Michael Paulus joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in June of 2015 as Director of Development for Major Gifts and was elevated to his current role as Assistant A.D. for Development/Major Gifts in March of 2017. In his role, Michael is responsible for raising major gifts for the Forward Together campaign, a $200 million fundraising initiative that includes a new basketball arena, renovated and expanded football stadium, and facility improvements for all 18 sports at Ole Miss.
Michael joined Ole Miss from Mount St. Mary’s University, where he managed all fundraising activities for Mount Athletics from 2013-2015. In his role, he led collaboration efforts with University Advancement, serving as a key member of the vice president’s leadership team and the athletic directors management staff. In consecutive years, the Mount Club achieved record levels of fundraising, as well as the completion of multiple donor-funded capital projects for improved facilities.
Michael began his career at Virginia Commonwealth University as a graduate assistant in athletic development before being hired as Director of the Ram Athletic Fund. At VCU from 2012-2013, he managed the day-to-day operations of annual giving, including priority seating, member benefits, and special event fundraisers.
A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Paulus played quarterback at the University of North Carolina and College of William & Mary. He earned a Masters of Education from VCU, his M.B.A. from Mount St. Mary’s, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education at Ole Miss.
- Matt McLaughlin, Director of DevelopmentEMAIL MATT
Matt McLaughlin joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in October of 2012 and was elevated to his current position in January of 2017. Matt’s responsibilities will be advancing fundraising efforts through philanthropic major gifts to the Vaught Society. The Vaught Society is a key component in support of the Forward Together Campaign, which is a $200 million facilities initiative for Ole Miss Athletics.
Before moving into his current role as Associate Director of Development for Major Gifts, Matt was an Assistant Director of Development for Annual Giving. Matt’s responsibilities were to assist in fundraising efforts for Football, Basketball, and Baseball, which saw three consecutive record breaking years in membership and annual contributions.
Matt graduated from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and minor in Marketing. He was also a four-year letterman for the Gamecock Baseball Team as an infielder and designated hitter. The Gamecocks won two Ohio Valley Conference titles during McLaughlin’s four year tenure from 2008 to 2011.
A native of Tampa, FL, Matt lives in Oxford with his wife, Brittney, and their daughter, Finley.
- Kathryn Lance, Assistant Director of DevelopmentEMAIL KATHRYN
Kathryn joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in April 2013 as assistant director of development; stewardship and prospect management. Lance is responsible for planning and coordinating all Vaught-Society, major donor, and special events for the foundation.
Prior to joining the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, Lance worked as the director of athletics hospitality in Ole Miss Athletics, for Colonnade Group of Birmingham, Alabama. During her three years with Colonnade, she managed all premium seating areas for Vaught-Hemingway and Oxford-University stadiums.
A native of Gainesville, Georgia, Kathryn earned her bachelor of science at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia. While attending UNG, Kathryn completed an internship at the Piedmont Room and Garden Tent in Atlanta, where she assisted the event coordinator with all corporate and private events.
Kathryn is married to Brady Lance, a native of Ackerman, Mississippi, and a graduate of Ole Miss. The two reside in Oxford, Mississippi, with their daughter, Norah.
- Alex Rankin, Assistant Director of Development
Alex joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in April 2017 as Assistant Director of Development. Alex’s responsibilities include the development of philanthropic major gifts to the Vaught Society. Currently, the Vaught Society is helping to fund the $200 million Forward Together campaign which includes a new basketball arena, renovations to Vaught Hemingway Stadium, and improvements for facilities serving all 18 sports at Ole Miss.
Prior to Ole Miss, Alex served as a Development Associate for The Rams Club at the University of North Carolina. His primary role was to assist the Major Gift team in raising funds for capital projects and the athletic scholarship endowment. During his time at UNC, The Rams Club announced its two most successful fundraising years in the foundation’s history.
Alex was born in Indianola, MS and lived in Oxford prior to moving to Hillsborough, NC. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Tulane University and a Masters of Sport Administration from the University of North Carolina.
- Kerry Cruse, Operations Coordinator
- Fowler Staines, Chief Financial Officer
Fowler Staines joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in August of 2012 after previously working for McGladrey and Pullen, LLP (Washington, DC) and Kinney and Associates (Oxford, MS).
Fowler graduated from Ole Miss in 2007 with a Bachelor of Accountancy and received her Master of Accountancy from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte in 2008.
Fowler is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as well as the Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Fowler lives in Oxford with her husband, Billy, and their children Graham, Miles, and Annesly.
- Georgia Russell, AccountantEMAIL GEORGIA
Georgia Russell joined the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation in May of 2017 as an accountant. Prior to joining the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation Georgia worked for Ham Langston & Brezina, LLP (Houston, TX) as a staff auditor. She also interned with the Ole Miss Business Administration office during the spring semester of 2017.
Georgia was a member of the Ole Miss women’s soccer team from 2012-2016. During Georgia’s time with the program she was an integral part of the Rebels success as they appeared in their first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.
Georgia graduated from Ole Miss in 2015 with a Bachelor of Accountancy, and is now pursuing her Master’s in Accountancy. Georgia grew up in Tupelo, MS and lives in Oxford as a huge Rebel Fan!
- Tammy Diggs, Donations Manager