Announcement made at red-carpet ESPN Films documentary at Ford Center on Friday night
OXFORD, Miss. – In honor of their extraordinary contributions to the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss Athletics will name the newly renovated Indoor Practice Facility the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center once its facelift is complete in early 2014, Ole Miss Director of Athletics Ross Bjork announced Friday.
The announcement was made at the premiere of the ESPN Films documentary, The Book of Manning, at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the Ole Miss campus. The event benefited the Friends of Children’s Hospital, which supports the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.
The renovation and expansion of the Manning Center has been made possible by gifts to the Forward Together Campaign. In partnership with Ole Miss Athletics, the Manning family and the family of Billy Van Devender have made significant contributions to the campaign in order to honor Olivia and Archie Manning in this special way.
“The names Olivia and Archie Manning will remind our athletes for generations to come of the values that represent the best of Ole Miss,” said Chancellor Dan Jones. “Olivia and Archie will be a daily inspiration to each of them.”
Olivia and Archie Manning have been a part of Ole Miss since they met as students on campus. Olivia was active at Ole Miss as a member of the Delta Gamma sorority and was selected as homecoming queen her senior year. The Mannings have three children, Cooper, Peyton and Eli, with Cooper and Eli having attended Ole Miss. The Mannings are currently recognized on campus with the speed limit of 18 miles per hour, in honor of the number Archie wore at Ole Miss, and Manning Way, which encompasses the roadway around several athletics facilities on campus and features a speed limit of 10 mph as a tribute to Eli’s jersey number.
“We are extremely grateful for Olivia and Archie Manning’s commitment to Ole Miss and our athletics program,” Bjork said. “I noticed a void around the name of the IPF, so in my mind there was no one better to name the new facility after than Olivia and Archie. Honoring them in this special way is meaningful on many levels and we are appreciative of the donations that were made to support this effort.
“On a personal note, I cannot thank Archie enough for his leadership in helping bring Coach Freeze and myself to lead Ole Miss Football and Ole Miss Athletics. The Manning Center will serve as a platform for all of our student-athletes to achieve their highest level of athletic performance and honor the legacy of the Manning family.”
“I cheered on Archie as a child growing up in Mississippi, and I admire him even more as an adult for all the things he has accomplished in his life,” said Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze. “I’m honored to have received his support in my hiring process and immeasurably grateful for all that he has done for our great university.”
Among the upgrades to the Manning Center is the construction of a full kitchen and dining hall that will be part of the Ole Miss dining program and open to every student, faculty and staff member. The facility will provide a nutrition center for all Ole Miss student-athletes and will be in the vicinity of the current banquet room.
The existing weight room is being expanded on the east side, widening the area by 2,000 square feet. The current locker room has also be enhanced and expanded, and includes a new player lounge on the west side of the IPF. The locker room was completed in August 2013 in time for training camp.
The new team meeting room is being constructed on the north end of the facility in the current lawn between the building and the south end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It will seat approximately 200, doubling the capacity of the current team room, and the meeting area will be outfitted with state-of-the-art audio and video equipment and coaching software.
Adjacent to the team room will be a new head coach’s office, putting all of the staff on the same level in the renovated coaching suite.
With the construction of the new team room, a new front door and recruiting room will be erected on the site of the current team room. The recruiting room will contain trophies, memorable images and interactive exhibits, and will celebrate the rich tradition of Rebel football with recruits, alumni and fans.
– Ole Miss Sports Information