BLOG — Newly hired Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork has literally gone from coast-to-coast the past decade to improve his resume and prepare for his newest assignment here in Oxford. One of the schools Bjork learned how to become an effective AD was at the University of Miami from 2003-2005. Bjork was Miami’s Associate Director for Athletics for External Operations for three years. The job included him being involved in marketing and promotions, tickets sales and properties that involved Miami’s sports teams. Bjork was also heavily involved in the hiring of former Miami men’s basketball coach Frank Haith, who led Missouri to a No. 2 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
His boss at Miami, Paul Dee, has followed Bjork’s career since he left Miami for UCLA in 2005 and he said this morning he was very happy for his former assistant.
“Ross is very, very energetic. His responsibilities at Miami were, I called it MCI, that’s money coming in. He was in charge of fund raising, he was in charge of our program in regards to advertising. In order to do that job, you have to be very, very affable,” said Dee, who was Miami’s AD from 1993-2008. “You have to be very good with people and particularly in the fund raising area, you have to be extremely good with people and Ross was all of that. Ross is very outgoing. He’s mature and I think the experiences he has had at Miami and subsequently at UCLA and Western Kentucky have prepared him very well to come in and take over a program and lead it.”
Dee remembers Bjork volunteering to help with the search to hire Haith, who was then an assistant coach at Texas. Dee said Bjork has a lot of contacts across the country and his scouting in regards to the Haith hiring was very organized and put together Dee recalled.
The first time Dee met Bjork, he felt like he was headed in the right direction, up the ladder in the college athletics world. Dee later added that he hired Bjork over another candidate, Kirby Hocutt, who ended up becoming the AD at Miami in 2008 before moving on to Texas Tech.
“When I met Ross for the first time, he was at Missouri when I interviewed him. It came down to two guys. One was Ross and the other one was Kirby Hocutt who is now the AD at Texas Tech who incidentally was hired at Miami. I interviewed the both of them and I picked Ross. From the first time that I met Ross, I knew he was a young man that had vision, that he knew he wanted to go places,” Dee said. “His career pattern was set out to achieve the job he got at Ole Miss and that is to be an athletic director at an SEC school or a major BCS conference school. I think he is well prepared for that. It was in his DNA that is what he wanted to do and he was well prepared. He’s worked very, very hard. It’s not something he expected, it’s something he expected to earn.”
Dee went on to say he thought Bjork would appeal to the alumni base at Ole Miss as well as the current staff and even students who came in contact with him.
“There are many constituencies there and I think the boosters will like him there. I liked some of things I read (Thursday) morning that Mr. (Archie) Manning had to say about him. I think he has evaluated Ross correctly,” Dee said. “I think that the constituents in the administration and your staff are going to respond well to him. Students don’t have much interaction with the athletic director but if they had to, I think it would be very positive. I think overall all the constituencies of the university and perhaps even people around the state that are affiliated with university, both directly and indirectly, like the legislature will like him. He is very well spoken. He makes a great impression.”
For more Dee quotes on Bjork, see Friday’s Sports section. (March 22, 2012)