Donor Support

Forbes Family Makes Major Gift to Ole Miss Athletics

By | Donor Support

By Bill Dabney

Avery and Neil Forbes of Madison, Mississippi, attended colleges other than the University of Mississippi, but the couple caught Rebel fever nonetheless. “When I came to Mississippi in 2003 to run a political campaign, I happened to work for a candidate who was a UM grad and his love for Ole Miss was contagious,” said Neil Forbes, a Chesapeake, Virginia, native who’s now a partner specializing in government services with the accounting firm Horne LLC of Jackson, Mississippi.

“Additionally, my roommate was a former team mascot and, considering it was Eli Manning’s last year as quarterback, there was a lot of excitement about the football team,” Forbes continued. “It was a great year to get engaged and excited about Ole Miss football. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked.”

The Forbes family has steadily increased its involvement with Ole Miss Athletics since 2005 and most recently made a major gift to the Forward Together Campaign, which supports facility improvements and scholarships for student-athletes. “We just want our gift to help the athletics department continue to provide world-class facilities for our athletes and the fans,” Neil Forbes said, adding that the infectious Ole Miss spirit is quickly spreading to his children. Hannah, 11, Sawyer, 7, and Madeline, 5, flashed wide grins on the “smile cam” during a baseball game and enjoyed a sideline pass for football. Sawyer even wanted to celebrate his birthday at the Pavilion at Ole Miss, the university’s basketball arena. “We were also thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the team through the Walk of Champions prior to a game last season,” Neil Forbes said. “Coach (Matt) Luke and (Rebel wide receiver) AJ Brown both stopped for a picture with our family, and that is a memory none of us will ever forget!”

The Forbes family looks forward to creating many more such memories. “Supporting Ole Miss Athletics has become a natural part of what we do as a family on weekends,” said Avery Forbes, who was admitted to Ole Miss out of high school but decided to study communications at Mississippi College in her hometown of Clinton, Mississippi. Even then, she frequently visited friends at Ole Miss. “Our goal is that when our kids are older and out of the house, they will always look back and think of all the fun we had and the memories we created over the years going to games.”

Neil Forbes joined the U.S. Army after high school. After serving in South Korea and at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne, he attended community college first and then Virginia Wesleyan College, where he earned a degree in English literature.

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, said he welcomes the Forbes family into the Vaught Society. “Some of our most loyal fans are not UM graduates and we think that’s simply a testament to our excellent game-day experience,” he said. “On behalf of all those who love our program, we greatly appreciate Neil and Avery’s generous support of Ole Miss Athletics.”

The Vaught Society is the leadership fundraising arm of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. Members of the Vaught Society make a commitment of $25,000 or more that is fulfilled over five years ($5,000 per year). These major gift commitments are above and beyond any priority seating annual donations. In recognition of their generosity, Vaught Society members gain access to an exclusive stewardship program.

To support Ole Miss Athletics with a gift to the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at, call 662-915-7159 or visit

Hester’s Major Gift Helps Give UM Tennis Competitive Edge

By | Donor Support

By Bill Dabney
A major gift to the University of Mississippi from attorney Bill Hester of New Orleans, Louisiana, is helping give the Ole Miss tennis teams a competitive edge. Hester, who started playing tennis at 6 years old and lettered at Ole Miss from 1967 through 1969, recently made a gift of $100,000 to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics. The gift will help offset construction costs associated with the new $11 million indoor tennis facility.

An earlier $300,000 gift from Louis and Lucia Brandt of Houston, Texas, helped jump-start construction on the 52,000-square-foot, two-story building. Located southeast of the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletic Performance Center on Manning Way, the facility features six indoor tennis courts for practice and competition, grandstand bleacher seating for 300 spectators, fan amenities and a spacious lobby.

“The new indoor facility will help the coaches get better recruits and take this program to a whole different level, which everyone is looking forward to,” said Rebel tennis player Zvonimir Babić, a senior from Zagreb, Croatia.

Hall of Fame UM men’s head tennis coach Billy Chadwick and longtime friend of Hester agrees: “The sport has grown … The SEC is recognized as the premiere tennis league in the nation. This new building will put us now in a position where we are competitive with the top teams in the nation from the facilities standpoint. It’s an absolutely fantastic facility.”

Hester grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, where he won the state high school championship two years in a row. After high school, he enrolled at Ole Miss (also his mother Rosa’s and sister Katie’s alma mater), where he played freshman and varsity tennis for four years — the last two in the No. 1 position — and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1969. He then served in the U.S. Army for almost three years before returning to Ole Miss for law school, receiving his juris doctorate degree in 1974. After law school, he joined The Kullman Firm in New Orleans, where he has practiced labor and employment law for more than 40 years.

Hester continues to play tennis regularly and competes annually in southern and national tournaments. In fact, he and his late father, International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee W.E. “Slew” Hester, are four-time USTA National Finalists in father-son doubles.

“One of my most favorite tennis stories involves (Ole Miss Alumna) Eleanor Shaw and the Hesters,” Chadwick recalls. “Slew used to play mixed doubles with Eleanor and won a Southern mixed doubles championship. I will say it was 35 years later when Bill played with Eleanor and again won a Southern mixed championship title, making Eleanor the only player to win a Southern mixed doubles title with both a father and son. The name Hester is synonymous with Mississippi tennis.”

Hester said the sport has changed significantly since his college days. “Our coach, John Cain, was an All-American running back at Alabama, and at Ole Miss, he was primarily a football coach. The so-called “minor sports” of tennis, golf, track and field were all coached by a football coach. That was their sideline,” he said. “Now, these sports have moved into the major category with full-time coaches and full-time assistant coaches, which was unheard of when I was in school.

“It’s much more competitive,” he continued. “In any given year, you’ll have five or six SEC teams in the top 15 of Division I schools. But when I was in college, I think USC won the championship every year that I was eligible to play, but that’s not the case now.

“In the four years that I played, we flew on an airplane one time: to the SEC tournament in Gainesville at the University of Florida. Now the team flies to tournaments and competitions all over the country. It’s totally different; it’s a big deal now.”

Additionally, when Hester played for Ole Miss, tennis was not a scholarship sport; now it’s not only a scholarship sport but the competition is all year. Hence, one reason for the new facility. “By getting the new indoor, we can practice regardless of the weather conditions,” Babić said. “Help from supporters of the Ole Miss Tennis program, like Bill Hester, has a tremendous impact on our tennis and actually our lives. The whole team is very grateful for the donations, and we hope to cheer our donors with some big wins.”

Chadwick said Hester simply has a giving spirit. “I’m so glad he’s getting this recognition because it’s really well-deserved — not only for the fact that he gave us a nice gift, but through the years he has been one of those forces that just elevates the program and the entire university.

“I’ll never forget our matches against LSU, Bill and his wife, Lorraine, were always in the stands,” Chadwick continued. “It was great to see a smiling face in Baton Rouge and it meant so much to the team. They were, and continue to be, fantastic supporters and outstanding ambassadors for the university.”

To support Ole Miss Athletics with a gift to the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at, call 662-915-7159 or visit

Doug and Jane Simmons Support Ole Miss Athletics with Major Gift

By | Donor Support
By Bill Dabney

Rebel fans who’ve enjoyed game day at the University of Mississippi are likely familiar with the arched gateway that begins the Walk of Champions — the football team’s brick-paved passage to the stadium. Lesser known is where the Walk of Champions ends.

UM alumni Doug and Jane Simmons, however, know it ends at Gate 4 of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, just beyond Letterwinner’s Walk. That’s where new signage, displaying the Simmons name, will serve as a lasting tribute to the Hollandale, Mississippi, couple’s recent major gift in support of Ole Miss Athletics. “I just wanted to give back to Ole Miss,” said Doug Simmons, himself a letter winner, having played halfback for the Rebels during college and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1971; Jane Simmons graduated the same year with a bachelor’s degree in education.

The gift is part of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each of the entrance gates at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels’ basketball arena.

“The Gate Naming Initiative is the first of its kind and will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “With $173 million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, the final phase of the campaign will see the opening of an indoor tennis facility this December and completed renovations at Oxford-University Stadium (baseball program) in early spring.” Gate naming recognition starts with commitments of $250,000, payable over five years.

Matt McLaughlin, a development officer with the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, said he hopes the Simmons couple’s gift will inspire similar support for the campaign. “Now, more than ever, it’s critical for Rebel fans to give back,” McLaughlin said. “We greatly appreciate Doug and Jane for stepping forward in support of Ole Miss. Their generosity will help to significantly improve our facilities, giving our student-athletes the competitive edge they deserve.”

Naming opportunities remain available for the grand gates at the north, east and west entrances as well as a limited number of individual gates. Earlier this year, the stadium’s south entrance was named for Diane and J.L. Holloway after the Ridgeland, Mississippi, couple supported the Forward Together campaign with a major gift.

For more information about the Gate Naming Initiative, contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7782 or visit

Holloway Gift Kicks Off Gate Naming Initiative

By | Donor Support

By Bill Dabney

Fans entering the south entrance of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at the University of Mississippi may have noticed new signage, displaying the names of Diane and J.L. Holloway and serving as a lasting tribute to the Ridgeland, Mississippi, couple’s recent major gift in support of Ole Miss Athletics.

The Holloways’ $1 million gift to the university’s Forward Together campaign will help strengthen programs and fund facilities and equipment. “This gracious gift will ultimately make significant improvements for the benefit of our student- athletes,” said Ross Bjork, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics. “The Holloways have a real desire to see not just our program achieve success but also our individual student-athletes, both on and off the field. We are extremely grateful for their generosity.”

The Holloway gift kicks off the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s drive to honor donors with naming opportunities for each of the entrance gates at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Pavilion at Ole Miss, the Rebels’ basketball arena. “The Gate Naming Initiative is the first of its kind and will play an integral role in completing the $200 million Forward Together campaign,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. “With $173 million raised toward a multitude of capital projects, the final phase of the campaign will see the opening of an indoor tennis facility this December and completed renovations at Oxford-University Stadium (baseball program) in early spring.”

Gate naming opportunities start at $250,000 and are payable over five years.

J.L. Holloway is founder and CEO of Tenax Aerospace in Madison, Mississippi, a company that leases aircraft to the U.S. government, including one used by FBI Director Christopher Wray for executive travel and other aircraft used by the Department of Defense for geographic mapping. While much of Holloway’s work is classified and cannot be discussed, he’s always eager to talk about Ole Miss. “Our teams are not doing exactly what we would like for them to do these days. There’ve been a few problems along the way, so we just thought this was an opportune time to be a giver in maybe an inopportune situation. We want our teams to know we are supporting them,” he said, adding that he hopes his gift will encourage similar contributions as a show of camaraderie. “You know most of us don’t need much support when everything is going perfect for us; we need that support when we feel like we’re not at the top of our game.”

The Holloways’ gift to name a gate is the most recent in a two-decade history of giving to the university, totaling nearly $2 million. “J.L. has the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever known. And not just in giving financially but giving of his thought, giving of his time and truly caring about what’s happening in people’s lives from very, very young people to old people,” said Diane Holloway, who earned a degree in education from Ole Miss in 1985 and is the daughter of Jackie Triplett and the late Dr. R. Faser Triplett of Jackson, Mississippi, longtime dedicated supporters of Ole Miss. “He does have a passion for helping young people.

“In the business sense, I think God has given J.L. an unusual gift for seeing things differently, building great teams and building businesses, and J.L. has been faithful to follow that,” Diane Holloway continued. “I feel that God has given us tremendous success because he knows that J.L. is a faithful giver and has believed forever that to whom much is given, much is expected. He lives that life and I admire that a lot.”

As a young man, Holloway served a six-month stint in the U.S. Army before taking his first job: selling sewing machines and vacuum cleaners. At 24, he started a small construction rental business that he built into a multistate organization and ultimately sold about six years later. Then, employing six people, he began HAM Marine, which became the foundation of Friede Goldman International with Holloway serving as its CEO. The company, a leading international provider of offshore drilling services, was publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and had 8,000 employees and operations in eight countries when Holloway retired to be able to play more tennis. “That lasted about three weeks and Diane told me to go find something to do!” Holloway said, laughing!

Now, 12 years later, Tenax Aerospace is thriving — good for the Holloways and good for Ole Miss. Tenax also operates companies and invests in land development, real estate, construction, general equipment sales and leasing, and health-care software, as well as construction and retrofit drilling and production vessels.

Among his many honors, Holloway was named to the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame in 1999, and he received the Mississippi Governor’s Citizen of the Year award in 2009. The J.L. Holloway Business & Technology Center at Mississippi College was named in his honor in 2007.

To what does he credit his success?

“Diane,” he says.

“No, it’s his tenacious, hard work,” she counters.

“I’ve been extremely blessed in my life,” he admits. “I’ve literally been an entrepreneur and CEO since I was 24 years old, so I enjoy the business world. I enjoy building things and working with people. I won’t say that comes natural; it comes from a lot of hard work in pursuing goals and making sure you have a method to accomplish them.

“In America, most of us describe success as how well we’ve done financially in life and certainly that’s a metric that we use, but to me it’s a lot about how you’ve been toward your fellow man and how you’ve been toward those organizations that do so much for people,” he said. “To me, that’s been a success point for Diane and me both. We’re both givers and we’re both people who want to help other people. So it brings a real joy and satisfaction to us to be able to provide things for others through the resources with which we’ve been blessed.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter expressed his appreciation for the university’s loyal donors. “We are tremendously grateful to the Holloways for this wonderful gift as well as their longtime commitment to generously supporting Ole Miss,” he said. “I continue to be inspired by how dedicated and supportive our alumni and friends are to UM — they are a significant reason for our sustained growth and success. Our university is truly fortunate to have individuals such as J.L. and Diane, who are so strongly committed and passionate about helping others.”

For more information about the Gate Naming Initiative, contact Keith Carter at, call 662-915-7159, or visit

Serving an Ace for Ole Miss Tennis

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades

Brandts Make Major Gift to New Indoor Facility

By Tina Hahn

Fans of Ole Miss Tennis can leave their winter coats at home come January as the Rebels begin competing in a new $11 million indoor facility, which has received a major boost from longtime tennis enthusiasts.

A $300,000 gift from Louis and Lucia Brandt of Houston, Texas, helped jump-start construction on the 52,000-square-foot, two-story building. Located southeast of the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletic Performance Center on Manning Way, the facility will feature six indoor tennis courts for practice and competition, grandstand bleacher seating for 300 spectators, fan amenities and a spacious lobby.

Former Ole Miss tennis team member and mathematics alumnus Louis Brandt — an Oxford native who practically grew up on campus with his dad, an economics professor — has enjoyed playing tennis for more than seven decades. His previous support of the tennis programs include resources for the Gillom Center, which had indoor courts before the renovation, and the varsity tennis pavilion on Magnolia Drive.

“Athletics has always been part of my life,” Brandt said. “Through college athletics, people are brought back to campus and are able to stay connected. That’s extremely important to a university. The location of the new center is perfect, and the project will be an outstanding addition among Southeastern Conference facilities.

“I love the sport of tennis because it is one you can play all of your life.  It is both physically and mentally challenging, tennis equipment is inexpensive, and there are a lot of courts available, especially in Oxford. In fact, since 2014, there is even a new club in town. I partnered with two others to create The Goose Creek Club, a family-oriented tennis, fitness and swim club offering the only clay courts between Memphis and Jackson.“

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, spoke of Brandt’s “significant, far-reaching impact” on building Ole Miss tennis programs to the level they enjoy today. “The remarkable achievements for which our tennis programs are now known have been possible because of the generosity of the Brandts and a few other dedicated alumni who understand the investments needed to succeed in our highly-competitive conference,” he said. “This new gift from the Brandts demonstrates a deep commitment to seeing Ole Miss tennis programs thrive in the SEC and on the national stage. We are extremely grateful for their support.”

Tennis has come a long way since Brandt began playing at 12 years of age, with wooden rackets. “There was no tennis instruction in Oxford so my friends and I learned by watching the Ole Miss team members who primarily came from towns where they had the luxury of tennis instruction during high school. “When I was around 14, I taught myself to string rackets. I purchased equipment from the Sears Roebuck catalog and, after destroying several rackets, became brave enough to put up a sign at the university advertising my services. People responded, and I began to string rackets for college students and eventually for some members of the tennis team.”

Brandt’s love of tennis and his love of Ole Miss combined to inspire his and Lucia’s support of the men’s and women’s programs, both financially and as enthusiastic fans. Brandt says he is “very proud” of the tennis programs, giving former longtime head coach Billy Chadwick the credit for setting a high bar for team success. “His successors are maintaining that level of accomplishment.”

Women’s tennis head coach Mark Beyers expressed his appreciation for the couple’s generosity. “It is great to see the Brandts at more home matches now that they are spending additional time in Oxford. Louis has been so wonderful to Ole Miss and specifically to Ole Miss tennis. His support has given our student-athletes an opportunity to practice and compete in some of the best facilities in the country,” Beyers said.

Men’s head coach Toby Hansson agreed, saying, “Louis Brandt is a lifelong supporter of our Ole Miss tennis programs. His commitment has enabled the Rebels to boast one of the nation’s premier indoor tennis facilities. His and Lucia’s dedication to our new facility will help ensure that our student-athletes can continue to successfully train and compete at the highest level.

“We are humbled by his contributions, and both the men’s and women’s programs will feel the impact of his generosity for years to come.”

During his college years, Brandt played varsity tennis along with Phil Berry, Bill Watson, Buddy Williamson and Morris Denton. Brandt’s Ole Miss doubles partner, Denton, is back as an Oxford resident now that he has retired, enabling the two to continue playing tennis together. Brandt began making gifts to the tennis programs in 1989, and later in 2001, began a 10-year program of providing added compensation for tennis coaches, helping bring their salaries in line with others in the SEC.

The Brandts’ philanthropic gifts permeate every area of Louis’ alma mater; a University of Texas (UT) alumna, Lucia has also become a faithful Ole Miss supporter. While serving as the chair of the University Foundation, Louis played a pivotal role in the foundation’s current facilities when he provided the funds in 1992 to purchase the Memory House from the John Falkner family. After the home underwent extensive renovations, it was renamed Brandt Memory House in his honor in 1995. The facilities are utilized daily for foundation business, university meetings, donor events and university-wide activities.

Louis Brandt’s business career has been centered in Texas, where he founded and later sold The Brandt Company, which is now a division of a New York Stock Exchange company. He also holds an engineering degree from UT.

For more information about the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics, contact Keith Carter at, call 662-915-7159 or visit

Peaces Create Graduate Scholarship

By | Donor Support

Gift will help student-athletes who attend professional schools

By Tina Hahn

University of Mississippi student Rush Peace had it all: a well-rounded college experience that combined rich academic experiences with the thrill of playing baseball on scholarship under legendary Coach Tom Swayze. And then it was on to dentistry school and a rewarding career.

Peace and his wife, Judy, of Macon, Georgia, want to support other Ole Miss student-athletes who graduate and choose to continue studies at UM’s schools of Dentistry, Medicine or Law. Their blended gift of $60,000 — an outright gift combined with a planned estate gift — has funded the new Dr. Rush Abbott and Julia Robertson Peace Graduate Scholarship Endowment. “The Peaces have expressed their deep commitment to expanding educational opportunities for Ole Miss students through this unique scholarship endowment,” said Noel Wilkin, UM interim provost and executive vice chancellor. “We encourage donors to match their passions and interests with needs at our university for a truly meaningful gift experience. Our appreciation goes to Rush and Judy for their thoughtful, generous gift that will ultimately help produce stellar dentists, physicians, lawyers and leaders who make outstanding contributions to society.”

Rush Peace’s mother, the late Dorothea Abbott Peace, was an Ole Miss and Chi Omega alumna, and the Peace family lived in West Point, Mississippi. When it came time for her son to attend college, she pointed out that the dentists and physicians in their family all received their strong foundations at Ole Miss. He agreed. After going on to earn his dental degree and post-graduate training, he enjoyed a 40-year career in prosthetic and pediatric dentistry. He was a pioneer in the Southeast in complete dentistry performed in hospital operating rooms. He retired from his prosthetic practice and then devoted the past decade to the treatment of medically complex pediatric and developmentally challenged patients. Upon retirement last year, it was determined he had completed more than 11,000 cases in Georgia hospital operating rooms.

“We are truly thankful for the generosity of Rush and Judy Peace. This support will allow graduating student-athletes to pursue higher levels of education and become pillars in society. The Peaces exemplify what the Ole Miss family is all about — helping others,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation.

Rush and Judy Peace return to the Oxford campus for events several times a year and share the inspiration behind their gift. “Ole Miss is hallowed ground and very special to my heart,” said Rush Peace. “Judy and I are extremely proud of what’s been accomplished here over the years. We enjoy championing Ole Miss in Georgia and are proud that many young people from Georgia come here for their college home.” He continued, “Student-athletes should be prepared for life after college sports; not everyone makes it in professional sports. Hopefully this scholarship will encourage some to consider dental, medical or law school as options. I felt as this scholarship grows it may even be used as a recruitment tool for athletes interested in attending professional school.”

Peace’s affection for his alma mater also stems from exceptional experiences playing sports and building friendships. The four-sport “Best Athlete” from West Point High School found himself practicing one on one with Ole Miss’ well-known and respected Coach Swayze. (Today’s Ole Miss baseball players compete on Swayze Field.) With his knees knocking with nerves, Peace found himself being called in for a talk after delivering a so-so performance fielding balls. “Show me your glove,” Coach Swayze demanded. Peace offered up his well-oiled calfskin that had been part of his playing career since junior high school. “You can’t play with a glove like that!” Coach Swayze left the field, returned with a shovel and buried the glove behind the pitcher’s mound. Decades later when Peace and his wife attended an M Club event, the then-elderly Coach Swayze asked Peace if he ever dug up his glove. Moved that his coach would remember him, Peace also chuckled at the memory of the pitcher’s mound exchange and reported that he was happy to leave a part of himself with his alma mater.

In addition, Peace recalls the first week of his freshman year, when he met fellow student Lee Hartwell Rogers, who, too, was planning a career in medicine. “It was an instant friendship that grew and grew,” Peace said of the now late ophthalmologist of Tupelo, Mississippi. “We studied together, tutored student-athletes and both joined Sigma Chi fraternity. We remained close friends until his death and now continue to travel to Ole Miss with his wife, Merrell Rogers.”

Rush and Judy Peace divide their support between their alma maters. Judy Peace graduated from Mercer University, where the couple also have established a scholarship endowment and support athletics. “My mother wasn’t able to attend college during the Depression,” said Judy Peace, explaining her dedication to help provide educational opportunities. “My mother was well-read but she still felt handicapped because she didn’t have a college education. I have always felt if someone needed extra help to pursue their college dreams, Rush and I should give them that boost.”

The Peace Graduate Scholarship Endowment is open to receive gifts from individuals and organizations; mail a check with the name of the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or visit online at To learn more about creating a scholarship fund, individuals can contact Ron Wilson, a development officer for the UM College of Liberal Arts at or 662-915-1755.

Bullpen Club Makes Major Gift to Ole Miss Baseball

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades

Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club Donates $150,000 Towards Stadium Enhancements

A ritual has emerged within Ole Miss Baseball that compels the Rebels to pump their fists in unison to the beat of the 2007 hit song “Love is Gone.” Now, with a major gift, the sport’s fan base wants to show its players that the love is back.

The Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club (ELBC) has committed $150,000 toward Oxford-University Stadium enhancements primarily designed to benefit the student-athletes.

“As a former player and coach, I’m happy to see these improvements being made on behalf of the players,” said Matt Mossberg, associate athletics director for development and major gifts. “Everyone knows the allure of Swayze Field, and the previous enhancements to the stadium have been crucial to that fan experience. Personally, I am extremely excited to help in the effort to improve the space our talented coaches and student-athletes work in every day.”

Thanks in part to the Bullpen Club’s gift, players will soon enjoy a state-of-the-art locker room and team meeting room, new hitting and pitching facilities, weight room enhancements and more. The gift will also help fund the M-Club Rooftop Plaza, which utilizes space on top of the performance center for additional seating.

“When I arrived here in the summer of 2000, one of the first people I met was Ernie LaBarge, the president of the Bullpen Club. I knew I wanted Ernie and the Bullpen Club to be an integral part of the program,” said Mike Bianco, head baseball coach. “Ernie built the club to over 1,000 members before his passing and then the club was named in his memory. The ELBC has continued to be instrumental in our growth as a program, helping supplement our budget.”

A longtime friend of the university and Rebel fan, LaBarge passed away in March 2008.

Of the Bullpen Club’s gift, $100,000 was donated as part of the $200 million Forward Together campaign, which was launched in 2011 to strengthen Ole Miss Athletics in its continuous commitment to excellence. The additional $50,000 of the gift is committed to support other baseball projects within Ole Miss Athletics.

Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, said these team-related stadium enhancements are possible because of private giving. Previous stadium renovations, such as the addition of the Diamond Club, were made possible by revenue-generating components, such as the sale of premium seats.

“While there are some new premium seats in this renovation, philanthropy is key to this whole project,” Carter said. “We needed people to step up and the Bullpen Club once again did that. I believe our players will be very grateful.”

For more information about the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at, call 662-915-7159. For more information about the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club, click here.

Davis’s Love for University Inspires Major Gift

By | Donor Support
By Bill Dabney

Don and Lynne Davis met in anatomy and physiology lab and realized instantly they had great chemistry. Now married for 53 years, the Davises of Meridian, Mississippi, admit they fell in love at first sight. They are grateful to the University of Mississippi for bringing them together and also for making them who they are today: Don, a highly successful otolaryngologist who recently retired after a 43-year practice, and Lynne, a retired pharmacist.

“We both love Ole Miss,” Don Davis said. “We spend a lot of time in Oxford. I credit Ole Miss with my education which allowed me to make enough money and make the wise investment choices needed to be able to give back to the university in a significant way.” With a $1 million gift, the Davises have established two endowments: The Donald S. and Lynne R. Davis Endowment for Athletics will provide support for the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation (OMAF) and the Donald S. and Lynne R. Davis Academic Scholarship Endowment will offer financial assistance to undergraduate students from Meridian. “During this season of giving, we are deeply grateful to the Davises for their incredible generosity,” said Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the OMAF. “I am personally impressed by their all-encompassing loyalty to the university as is evident in their giving record, which supports not only athletics but also academics.”

Dr. Davis, an Iuka, Mississippi native whose professional life was spent in Meridian, said he hopes the scholarship will provide UM tuition support for students from Meridian’s two private schools — Lamar School, the Davis children’s high school alma mater, and Russell Christian Academy. Additionally, he hopes his endowment for athletics will support continual improvements to Ole Miss sports programs.

A member of the Ole Miss Air Force ROTC, Don Davis graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1958 and then entered flight school for three years before returning to Ole Miss to take classes that would prepare him for medical school. At that time, he met Lynne Ruble of West Point, Mississippi, who graduated from Ole Miss in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy.

After Don Davis earned his medical degree in 1966 from the University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson, he and Lynne moved to Meridian to start a practice and a family. The couple has three grown children — Alicia Davis Johnson of New Orleans, Louisiana, Don Davis Jr. of Oxford, Mississippi, and Andy Davis of Meridian, all Ole Miss alumni — and seven grandchildren. “I told them they could go anywhere they wanted to go, but the money is going to Ole Miss,” Davis said, laughing. At Ole Miss, Dr. Davis was active in his fraternity, Sigma Chi, while Lynne Davis was likewise involved with her sorority, Delta Delta Delta. Now, when they’re not enjoying Ole Miss sports or spending time with their grandchildren, they love to travel, having recently completed a trip around the world. Next up is a trip to Rwanda, Africa, to observe mountain gorillas in the wild — an adventure that has been on Lynne Davis’s bucket list for many years.

To learn more about the Vaught Society and how it supports the Forward Together campaign, contact Keith Carter at or call 662-915-7159. To learn more about scholarship endowments, contact Denson Hollis, senior director of major gifts in the Office of Development, at or 662-915-5092.

Athletics Foundation Announces Record-Breaking Year

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades, Forward Together

Ole Miss Athletics Foundation Raises $45.6 Million over the Past Fiscal Year

By Adam Kuffner

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation is pleased to announce $45.6 million in cash contributions, a new record, from donors in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016. The annual contributions break the previous high of $35.2 million in cash donations set the previous fiscal year. Cash giving in the two years prior to that was $27.4 million in 2014 and $26.0 million in 2013, bringing the total cash contributed in the last four years to $134.2 million.

The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation is comprised of members who make a donation to support Ole Miss Athletics. Along with the increase in cash donations, the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation has grown as well, now consisting of 17,773 members and counting.

“On behalf of Ole Miss Athletics, including our coaches and our talented student-athletes, I would like to thank Rebel Nation for their generous contributions over the past year that set a new standard in fundraising,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork. “The Ole Miss Family continues to grow, and the support allows us to continue giving Rebels the highest quality student-athlete experience.”
The record-breaking year would not have been possible without several outstanding gifts. The Foundation has expressed its sincere gratitude to C Spire, FedEx Corporation, Dr. Gerald Hollingsworth, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Jordan, the Ole Miss M-Club Alumni Chapter, the Trehern Charitable Foundation, an anonymous member and many others who have made significant contributions.

In November, Dr. Hollingsworth made a $25 million commitment to Ole Miss Athletics composed of $10 million in current year cash and the remaining $15 million deferred, including an $11 million funded trust as part of an estate plan. This total commitment is the single largest gift ever received by the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. The $10 million current year portion of Dr. Hollingsworth’s donation will be used to support the north end zone expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, where the playing field already bears his name.

Comprised of Ole Miss Athletics Foundation membership and priority seating donations, annual giving represented $22.2 million (48.7 percent) of the $45.6 million in cash gifts, an increase of $6.6 million from last year.

The Vaught Society received a major increase in cash donations for Ole Miss Athletics, up $10.2 million from last year for a total of $18.2 million this fiscal year. The Vaught Society started with 29 original charter members in 2010 and currently has 388 members who make pledges of $25,000 or greater over the course of five years. Along with cash donations raised by the Vaught Society, $4.0 million was donated through Forward Together Capital Gift Agreements.

“Once again we are amazed by the remarkable generosity of the Ole Miss Family,” noted Keith Carter, Senior Associate A.D. for Development/Athletics Foundation Executive Director. “We continue to ask our dedicated and passionate supporters each year to provide essential resources in our pursuit of excellence.  This year, just like the ones before, they have answered the call.  On behalf of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, we thank you for helping Ole Miss Athletics compete and win championships at the highest level.”

Leading the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation to another record-breaking year, Carter was named the 2016 National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD) Fundraiser of the Year in the industry.

In addition, the Forward Together campaign has now topped $167.5 million in commitments with $30 million in new gifts pledged in the fiscal year. The Foundation reached the original goal of $150 million for the Forward Together campaign during 2016 and raised the goal to $200 million. With $32.5 million remaining, the new mark is anticipated to be met by June 2017.

As part of the $200 million Forward Together campaign, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is receiving major upgrades for the 2016 season. The north end zone bowl has been enclosed to bring the stadium’s capacity to just over 64,000, a new club in the south end zone has been constructed on field level and the playing field has been transformed to a natural grass surface. New videoboards, a new audio/video system and new lighting are being installed as well. A plaza and letterwinner walk, with a featured bell tower, outside of the north end of the stadium, are planned for finish in late fall. The football practice fields are also undergoing renovations, including a new artificial turf field, among other additions nearing completion.

The track and field complex resurface and renovations will also be completed in the coming days. The Gillom Sports Center began major construction in early summer to include new weight and training rooms, team meeting rooms, playing courts, locker rooms, offices and other team space for softball, soccer, volleyball and rifle teams, with expected completion in spring 2017.

Oxford-University Stadium will begin undergoing renovations this year with the new Trehern Performance Center for the baseball team and a new club area behind home plate. Athletics will also begin work this fall on an indoor tennis facility that will hold six indoor tennis courts.

Ole Miss Athletics is grateful to the many donors, ticket holders and fans that enable our projects for student-athletes to be successful.

For more information on the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation and the Forward Together campaign, please visit or call the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.

Lloyd Family Supports Stadium Expansion With Gift

By | Donor Support, Facility Upgrades, Forward Together
By Bill Dabney

Ole Miss football fans are accustomed to the cacophony of sounds in the Grove on game day – the chatter of classmates reuniting, the laughter of children playing catch, the rousing horns and drums of the Pride of the South, the cheers as Rebels parade along the Walk of Champions – but in the 2017 season and beyond, one sound will be heard over all others: chimes.

“Our hope is that the bell tower can be seen and its chimes heard from one end of campus to the other,” said Bob Lloyd of Jackson, Mississippi. To support the construction of a stately new bell tower in the north end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Lloyd, his brothers Ted and Ben, and their late father William B. “Cosmo” Lloyd have committed $1.3 million to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics.

The tower is expected to be finished by early spring and dedicated during the Rebels’ spring game weekend. At more than 60 feet tall, it will be the focal point when walking from the Grove to Vaught Hemingway’s North End Zone Plaza along the new Gertrude C. Ford Way. The game day Walk of Champions will culminate with players walking through the Lloyd Bell Tower. “On game day, the special tone of the Rebel bell will signal game time — time to take that jovial Grove attitude and bring that energy to the Vaught with a swagger and confidence that says, ‘This is our day and our house!’” said Lloyd, a 1983 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration.

Lloyd presented the bell tower idea to the university in 2010, having been aware of traditions surrounding similar structures at other schools. About a year later, he received a call from Matt Mossberg, a development officer for Ole Miss Athletics, saying the tower would be an outstanding addition to the Vaught’s north end zone expansion project.

“We really like this and are grateful to the Lloyds for helping to bring the idea to fruition,” said Mossberg, adding that the bell tower is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2017 spring game. “The Lloyds want to be part of the fabric of Ole Miss Athletics forever and we believe having this bell tower, which will bear their family name, is an impactful way to accomplish that. It will stand right in the middle of the pedestrian space of the Letter Winner’s Plaza, right in the foot print of the stadium. We can see fans rallying around the tower and hopefully starting a few new traditions in support of the Rebels.”

New traditions could include bathing the tower in red light and ringing the chimes every time the Rebels win a sporting event or having a Hotty Toddy celebrity ring the bell before asking fans the renowned game-launching question, “Are you ready?!”

“This is about creating an experience that gives recruits chill bumps when Ole Miss comes onto the field,” Lloyd said. “Ole Miss needs a variety of factors that give us a unique edge to recruit against other SEC schools.”

Additionally, the Lloyds hope the bell tower will serve as a representative of achievement university-wide. “We would like the bell to ring loud and proud for each and everything positive Ole Miss, such as a new Rhodes Scholar, a women’s volleyball victory, a professor being named best in the SEC, a new recruit commit, alumni being honored – any positive event that Ole Miss wants to celebrate,” said Ted Lloyd of Jackson, a 1976 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration.

“The utilization of the bell tower can be one of those advantages that ingrain Ole Miss into our future students and athletes. It’s intended to be a symbol to rally around — a new beginning that the entire Ole Miss family can love and embrace without regard to race, gender, age or social status,” Bob Lloyd said. “It’s to help facilitate the eternal love for Ole Miss that exists in almost every student who has ever stepped foot on campus.”

The Lloyds, who grew up playing catch in the Grove and still tailgate in the same spot each year, hope their gift to the Forward Together campaign will help Ole Miss Athletics continue to build a powerhouse program. “We hope it will provide one small piece of the puzzle that helps Ole Miss become the Cinderella story of college football and win a national championship again,” Bob Lloyd said. “We believe if you don’t dream and strive for what you really want, you will never achieve the goal.”

It’s what their father would have wanted. “Bob, the driving force behind the bell tower project, suggested naming the Lloyd Family Bell Tower in honor of Cosmo, our dad, whose love, loyalty and dedication to Ole Miss was unmatched and never questioned,” Ted Lloyd said. “Dad always said, ‘If a recruit didn’t feel the love for Ole Miss then best he or she go somewhere else; we want student-athletes who want to be here.’  Cosmo loved and supported the idea of a bell tower from the first mention of it and its purpose.”

A 1974 graduate of the UM School of Business, Ben Lloyd of Oxford, Mississippi, agrees with his brother: “Cos would be very happy and very proud with the bell tower because he loved Ole Miss so much.  And he knew that he instilled his love and passion for his alma mater in his sons. He would be honored that his family could make such an important and permanent contribution to the campus.”

The bell tower will also be dedicated to the memory of Scott Keller Lloyd, Ted Lloyd’s son who was killed at age 16 in a 2008 automobile accident. “There was no doubt, none, that he was a great Rebel fan and would have been a great Ole Miss student and loyal alumnus if not for one tragic mistake,” Ted Lloyd said.

The $150 million Forward Together campaign was launched in 2011 to strengthen Ole Miss Athletics in its continuous commitment to excellence. With the help of 3,425 donors, the ambitious campaign surpassed its original goal in November 2015, raising $155 million. Currently, Forward Together has surpassed $165 million on its way to a new goal of $200 million.

The campaign conceptualized 10 to 14 capital projects, including the gleaming Pavilion at Ole Miss – a $95 million arena that seats approximately 9,500 fans for basketball games, concerts and other events.

The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation recently announced its next phase of projects that will include renovating the Oxford-University Baseball Stadium and building an indoor baseball performance center, as well as upgrading the FedEx Student-Athlete Success Center, Gillom Sports Center, Ole Miss Track and Field Complex, Starnes Athletic Training Center, football practice fields, and a new indoor tennis facility.

To learn more about the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss Athletics, contact Keith Carter, senior associate athletics director for development and executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, at or call 662-915-7159.