“Having the opportunity to serve as the interim AD was so valuable, you hear from sitting ADs all the time, you don’t understand the job until you sit in the chair. I learned that very early on in the interim tenure.” – Keith Carter, New Ole Miss AD
The university promoted interim athletics director Keith Carter to be the full-time AD. Carter has filled the role in an interim capacity since May, when former Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork left to take the same job at Texas A&M.
“There were things that were challenging, you know, people are looking at you for leadership and guidance, that comes at you pretty quickly,” Carter explains. “Having time to spend with our internal units was very valuable. I’ve spent most of my time on the external side, so that was incredibly valuable.”
A former All-American basketball player at Ole Miss, Carter has worked in the Rebels’ athletics department since 2009. He has been the executive director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation since 2012 and took over as the deputy AD for resource and development acquisition in 2018.
In his time atop the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation, Carter has seen monetary commitments and donation nearly triple from $62 million to $182 million toward the Forward Together campaign. In 2016, the National Association of Athletic Development Directors named Carter the Fundraiser of the Year.
“One of the first things is to get out to donors. I think we’ve got some money on the sidelines; some people have been in a wait and see mode, not just with the athletics department, but with the university. We just got our chancellor a couple of months ago, but now with all the permanent leadership in place people are going to want to have good conversations about giving.”
Prior to working at Ole Miss, Carter played professional basketball in Italy from 2001-08. He started for four seasons at Ole Miss, earning All-American honors as a senior in 1999 and first-team All-SEC honors in 1998 and 1999.
In short, he is not a newcomer to Ole Miss, and that has a real upside.
“There’s a lot of advantages, it all starts with relationships. For a person who comes in fresh and new, there’s a period there where you just have to meet people, learn names and figure out who’s who. There’s no learning curve there. I have relationships with our staff obviously, coaches, student-athletes, fans, and donors. So that’s going to allow us to hit the ground running.”
He also tells CollegeAD he’ll be addressing staffing needs and focusing on getting out in the community; spreading the Ole Miss message far and wide.
Mike Glenn, the chair of the athletics director search committee, said in a statement that the committee voted unanimously to recommend Carter for the job. Glenn cited Keith Carter’s background in fundraising and administration, plus his experience working inside Ole Miss’ athletics department as a key factor for why he was chosen.
“It’s a surreal feeling honestly, to come from having been a student-athlete, now to able to come back full circle and be a part of helping our almost 400 student-athletes, it’s very special.”
This story first appeared in The NightCap, CollegeAD’s evening newsletter. The NightCap delivers the day’s college athletics news in simple bullet points, giving you what you need to know in just a few lines. Get The NightCap today.