Ole Miss baseball dugout named for loyal Rebels

Published 1:52 am Sunday, February 18, 2024

Johnsons’ $1M gift to UM athletics boosts facility efforts

By Bill Dabney
University of Mississippi Communications

As the Ole Miss baseball team prepares for a new season full of potential, Rebel fans with a keen eye will notice the home team dugout has changed: It has a name.

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The Evelyn and Jeff Johnson Dugout honors $1 million in gifts to the University of Mississippi as part of CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes.

“We are die-hard fans of Ole Miss sports, particularly of Rebel baseball,” said Evelyn Johnson, of Monroe, Louisiana. “So many of our treasured memories with our family have revolved around attending games together and simply getting caught up in the energy, revelry and excitement that athletic competitions bring to players and fans alike.

“We hope our gift will be used to help Rebel student-athletes continue to gain the competitive edge they need to compete and win on a national level, giving increasingly more families the opportunity to have the fan experience we’ve enjoyed for so long.”

The Evelyn and Jeff Johnson Dugout honors $1 million in gifts to the University of Mississippi as part of CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes. ((Submitted)

A $500,000 gift from the Johnsons in 2020 enabled the university to construct a contemporary lounge space for Rebel baseball players, repeating the gift the couple made in 2016 for football players.

“Jeff and Ev’s generous gifts to our programs have been crucial to establishing our presence on a national stage,” said Keith Carter, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics. “Their gifts will help us compete and win championships.”

The player lounges at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and Oxford-University Stadium have both been named in honor of the Johnsons, whose children Drew and Abigail graduated from Ole Miss in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

“Jeff, Ev and the entire Johnson family are some of our biggest Ole Miss athletics fans,” said Denson Hollis, the athletics foundation’s CEO. “They are loyal fans who cheer for our student-athletes in the stands at home games and often follow them on the road to encourage them at away games.

“They also care passionately about them off the field. This is evidenced by naming the players’ lounges for football and baseball.”

The Johnsons also believe in the importance of supporting academics.

In 2022, with a $200,000 gift to the university, the couple established an endowment in honor of each of their children: the Abigail Johnson Dietetics and Nutrition Support Fund and the Drew Johnson Center for Manufacturing Excellence Support Fund.

Abigail Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and nutrition. She subsequently earned a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of Alabama and passed her board exams to become a registered dietitian.

She is a professor of nutrition at the University of Louisiana at Monroe while pursuing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.

Drew Johnson, the youngest member of the foundation’s Vaught Society, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2017 and worked for his fraternity’s national office for two years before returning to UM to earn his master’s degree in 2021. He is an analyst for the Mississippi Joint Legislative PEER Committee in Jackson.

Drew Johnson is married to UM graduate Shay Pichon Johnson, who earned a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in pharmacy in 2020 and 2023, respectively. She is in a PGY1 community-based residency for pharmacy.

In her honor, the Johnsons made a $15,000 unrestricted gift to the School of Pharmacy Dean’s Fund.

Evelyn Johnson attended Ole Miss, but after marrying during her senior year and moving to Kansas, where her husband was stationed for his Army career, she graduated from Kansas State University. She is actively involved in her community, serving on several charity foundations and boards.

Jeff Johnson is president and CEO of Scott Powerline and Utility Equipment in Monroe. He graduated from Louisiana State University at Shreveport in 1990 and joined the U.S. Army, serving as a field artillery officer for three years.

“We love the university and are very proud of all the hard work the student-athletes put in every day to excel in their individual sport,” Ev Johnson said. “If we can help make their lives a little easier in any way, we feel blessed to be able to do that.”

To make a gift to Ole Miss athletics, visit CHAMPIONS. NOW. or contact Denson Hollis at denson@givetoathletics.com or 615-957-4372.

To make a gift in support of academics, visit https://give.olemiss.edu or contact Nikki Neely Davis, assistant vice chancellor for development, at nlneely@olemiss.edu or 662-915-6678.