The interview lasted just under an hour. Here is his opening statement.
“I would say without question that last year was an interesting year. After a couple of years of pretty good success in athletics, I think we had a bump in the road. Some might call it a speed bump and some might call it a hurdle. I’m not sure. Certainly in our major sports, it was not what we intended. While we had 10 of our 18 sports go to postseason, that’s not the total measuring stick we have for success. We fully expect our football teams and our basketball teams and baseball at the top every year and playing for something significant during their seasons.”
“At the same time, life has taught me that nothing goes straight up or straight down. There are always ups and downs as the trend goes. I feel strongly about the positive trend Ole Miss athletics has. We’ve got some of the best facilities in the conference. We may not be as big, but as far quality, we’ve got some of the best. You know about the construction we’ve had over the last couple of years and the construction that is underway now with tennis and golf.”
“Our budgets have gone up. I remember in 1994 when I came to Ole Miss our budget was $8 million and now this year, the athletic department budget will probably be somewhere around $47-48 million. If you add in the foundation, we’ll be close to $55-60 million. That’s still in the bottom quarter of the SEC so we have to be very mindful of how we invest our money. I choose to use the word invest instead of spend because we want a return out of everything we invest in. All in all, it’s one of those years where you dust yourself off and move forward. I’m optimistic about our programs. In the three major sports that we have there have been changes that the coaches have decided to do recognizing there is some strengthening that could be done and they’ve done it and I’m pleased with that.”
“The other two components of that are we are ahead of our season ticket sales from last year so there is a lot of interest in it. Our foundation is going to have a record donation this year for either the second or third year in a row. That’s all cash. A lot of folks count pledges and things like that. We only count it when it’s cash. So we’re very optimistic getting into this season and continuing the positive things that have developed over the last several years.”
For more from Boone on specific issues, such as the new basketball arena project, tennis expansion and votes from the SEC meetings, see Friday’s edition of the EAGLE. (June 16, 2011)