By Adam Brown
On Friday afternoon inside the Manning Center, Keith Carter publicly accepted the position as the University of Mississippi’s ninth athletics director.
“I could not be more excited to stand before you with this opportunity to lead Ole Miss Athletics,” Carter said.
Chancellor Glenn Boyce said he was very pleased with how the search committee and process ran flawlessly.
“I knew that we would come up with the right candidate,” Boyce said. “Keith had to fight through that process and won the job through that process with the recommendation to me, and that led to my interview with Keith.”
Carter joined the athletics department in September 2009 and then served as Executive Director for the Foundation beginning in 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 experienced its four highest years for donations, including a record $45.6 million in cash contributions in 2015-16. During his tenure, commitments to the Forward Together capital campaign increased from $62 million to $182 million in cash and pledges toward its goal of $200 million.
During the time he served as interim AD, according to Carter, the department went through challenging times. He said the support staff did an incredible job not only making sure Ole Miss Athletics functioned but functioned at a very high level during the uncertainty and the angst.
“I know what it takes to win championships at Ole Miss,” Carter said. “From cutting down the nets as a player to watching us win the Sugar Bowl as an administrator, I will do everything in my power to help us compete at the highest level.
Carter learned the job from mentors and athletic directors around the country – Pete Boone, Ross Bjork, Danny White (UCF) and Allen Greene (Auburn).
“I have learned so much from them and I thank them for what they have done,” he said.
Carter said he is pleased with where the football program is heading under the direction of head coach Matt Luke.
“I am so excited about Coach Luke. He is our coach and we could not be more excited about the opportunity we have next week in Starkville. (I am) excited about where the future is headed,” Carter said.
Carter said one of his top priorities is for each student-athlete to excel not only on the field but in the classroom, too.
“I believe the purpose of intercollegiate athletics is to provide student-athletes the opportunity for academic success while competing at the highest level,” he said. “Our role as administrators is to ensure each student-athlete has the resources to accomplish both of those adjectives.”
“Ole Miss is a destination school and the flagship university that can attract the best student-athletes in the country. It is my job to provide the leadership, facilities and resources to win championships.”
Carter looks to get the athletic foundation staff back to full strength as well as boost fundraising, he said.
“There is money on the sidelines. People have been in a wait-and-see mode,” Carter said. “I am going go back to those people and continue to build those relationships.”