Ross Bjork to address Ole Miss fan base with town hall meetings
OXFORD — It has been a tumultuous few years for Ole Miss athletics and Ross Bjork is ready to discuss them. On Tuesday the school announced they would hold town meetings all across Mississippi and Memphis next month where Ole Miss’ vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics will tackle any and all questions from the Rebel fan base.
“I think it’s our job to communicate, be transparent,” Bjork said. “We’re only as good as our fans and our supporters and all the people that went to school here and came before us. To me we have an obligation to do that. We’ve gone through our challenges and there may be questions people have. To me this is a great forum to do that. We want to be open and accessible about all the things that happen in athletics.”
The seven town hall meetings will begin on Feb. 11 at the Grammy Museum in Cleveland include stops in Corinth (Feb. 12), Jackson (Feb. 18), Oxford (Feb. 23), Tupelo (Feb. 25), Gulfport (Feb. 26) and conclude in Memphis on Feb. 28. Each town hall meeting will last 90 minutes with Bjork giving a short introduction then letting those in attendance take up the rest of the time by asking their questions and voicing concerns about the athletics at Ole Miss.
Unlike the Rebel Road Trips that take place in the spring, which Bjork says will still happen this year, the meetings will be more serious and formal than the informal, celebratory stops they make with Rebel Road Trip.
There is potential for the meetings to get contentious as the Ole Miss fan base has voiced their displeasure over several topics throughout the years including the NCAA case, the past couple down years for the football program as well as changes with the basketball program. Bjork is prepared for the good and the bad.
“I think you want to hear everything and that’s why we’re doing it,” Bjork said. “You don’t want to shy away from tough questions. If somebody has something they want to share, it may not be a question, we’re not going to shy away from that. I think that’s our job is to take the good with the bad. If it’s positive, great. If it’s something we need to address and hear feedback or criticism, that’s what a leader does.”
The calendar flipped to 2019 and has brought with it a lot of change. There are two new football coordinators with the recent hiring’s of Mike MacIntyre and Rich Rodriguez. The basketball programs have two new head coaches with Kermit Davis and Yolette McPhee-McCuin. But possibly the biggest change entering a new year is the cloud of the NCAA investigation is gone with the case reaching its conclusion in November.
Bjork feels a sense of a fresh start and wants to use the town halls as a way to convey it to the Rebel fans.
“I feel like we can do our job and not be bogged down by all these other meetings, investigations and processes,” Bjork said. “We’re here to build programs and help our student athletes. …I really believe once we hit January 1 we can say ‘Lets do our job.’ Whatever normal is in college athletics. I’m really excited about hitting that button and going into 2019.”
The Oxford town hall will be held at the Ole Miss Inn from 12:30-2 p.m. and serve as a lead up to Ole Miss’ men’s basketball game against Georgia at 2:30 p.m. that day.