Nov. 7, 2011
OXFORD, Miss. -- University of Mississippi Athletics Director Pete Boone announced today that the 2011 football season will be the last for head coach Houston Nutt.
"Our goal is to compete for championships, and we are not making progress in that regard," said Boone. "It's time for our team to have new leadership and a new direction."
Nutt will finish out the season with the Rebels, a decision that Boone says was made in the interest of continuity and stability for student-athletes as they near the end of the semester and end of the season.
"My time at Ole Miss has been very special, and I've enjoyed working with a wonderful group of athletes and the Ole Miss community at large," Nutt said. "Change is never easy, but I understand why it's necessary. My attention is on finishing out the 2011 season and winning this Saturday."
Boone also announced that he would be stepping down as athletics director within the next year.
"When Coach Nutt arrived four years ago, I said publicly he would be the last coach I would hire. I meant it," said Boone. "On several occasions over the past year, Chancellor Jones and I have discussed what would happen if a disappointing football season resulted in a coaching change, including whether a change would affect my timetable as athletics director. When I decided we need new leadership in the football program, I knew it was also the right time for new leadership in the athletics department."
Jones praised Boone for his leadership and commitment to Ole Miss.
"Pete Boone loves Ole Miss. I am grateful to Pete for his leadership of athletics, including his selfless decision to announce his plans for the future," Jones stated. "There will be other opportunities to acknowledge his contributions to the university, but I know we all recognize the significant progress in facilities we have made under his leadership and the vision he has provided for financing the next phase of facility improvement."
During Boone's two stints as athletics director, the department has seen significant growth and expansion, with annual expenditures increasing from less than $10 million in 1995 to approximately $50 million this year. Over that same period, Boone has spearheaded more than $150 million in improvements to athletics facilities.
"The Ole Miss family has accomplished a lot during the time I've been here," said Boone. "We have one more step to take - completing the Forward Together campaign. We will then have some of the best facilities in the nation, across all sports, for our student-athletes, coaches, and fans."
Jones says he looks forward to the next chapter of the Rebels' storied history.
"We are committed to excellence in everything associated with Ole Miss," said Jones. "In the context of athletics, excellence includes winning the right way and competing for championships. The Ole Miss family will work together to ensure a smooth transition for our football team and our athletics department."
The process to choose the next head coach will be directed by a five member committee including representatives from the faculty, the Athletics Committee, the alumni and the M-Club, with the assistance of a national search firm. Ole Miss great Archie Manning and FedEx Executive Vice President Mike Glenn will serve as co-chairs of the search committee. The committee will make a recommendation to Jones, who will make the final decision. Boone recommended this process to Jones last summer as a part of routine succession planning in the event a coaching change was necessary during the last few years of his tenure.
Although a specific timetable for the athletics director search has not yet been determined, that search will also be directed by a committee co-chaired by Manning and Glenn.
Chancellor Jones expressed gratitude to Manning and Glenn for agreeing to lead both searches.
"We are fortunate to have these men co-chair both of these committees," Jones said. "No one in America is more connected in the world of college athletics than Archie Manning. And no one is more trusted in the Ole Miss family. Mike Glenn is a highly respected executive in the world of sports, overseeing FedEx's sports marketing activities which include sponsorship of the NFL, NASCAR and the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup. I am personally grateful for their willingness to take on this responsibility."