OXFORD, MS (OleMissSports.com) - With a return to postseason following a two-year absence and a renewed spirit on many fronts, Ole Miss is investing in its football program with increased salaries for its coaching staff and major upgrades to the Indoor Practice Facility, as announced Thursday by Athletics Director Ross Bjork.
After guiding the Rebels to a dramatic turnaround this season, head coach Hugh Freeze's contract has been extended by one year and his base salary will rise to $2 million. Ole Miss improved from 2-10 in 2011 to 6-6 this year and will compete in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 5.
Freeze can earn $100,000 per SEC win beginning with the second victory, and his remaining incentive package stays the same as 2012. In addition, the salary pool for Freeze's staff will increase by 10 percent.
"Coach Freeze and his staff quickly changed the culture and added the necessary confidence in our football program, and we look forward to seeing our rise among the SEC elite under his leadership. We all believe that Coach Freeze is the perfect fit for Ole Miss, and we are just beginning to see the fruits of everyone's hard work," Bjork said. "The facility enhancements are all about giving our coaches a greater platform to recruit from and our student-athletes the best tools to be successful. While we are proud of our current facilities, we cannot simply maintain or we fall behind. These enhancements will benefit our entire athletics program and place our football facilities among the finest in the nation."
As part of the Forward Together campaign, a $12.5 million renovation and expansion of the Indoor Practice Facility will commence in early 2013. The project will be built in phases and is expected to be completed by late 2013 and early 2014.
"I want to thank Ross and our administration for their commitment to this program, our players and coaches. My family and I love Ole Miss, and this is a great place to call home," Freeze said. "While we are proud of our accomplishments this season, we have yet to reach our goal of returning championships to the University of Mississippi. This investment and particularly the facility improvements are a major step in providing our players the best student-athlete experience and creating an environment that will attract the nation's top recruits."
Among the upgrades is the construction of a full kitchen and dining hall that will be part of the Ole Miss dining program and open to every student and faculty and staff member. The facility will provide a nutrition center for all Ole Miss student-athletes and will be in the vicinity of the current banquet room. Ole Miss Athletics will also hire a full time nutritionist to supplement the current program and grow the overall Health and Sports Performance department.
The new team meeting room will be constructed on the north end of the facility in the current lawn between the building and the south endzone of Vaught Hemingway Stadium. It will seat approximately 200, doubling the capacity of the current team room, and the meeting area will be outfitted with state-of-the-art audio/video equipment and coaching software.
Adjacent to the team room will be a new head coach's office, putting all of the staff on the same level in the renovated coaching suite.
With the construction of the new team room, a new front door and recruiting room will be erected on the sight of the current team room. The recruiting room will contain trophies, memorable images and interactive exhibits and will celebrate the rich tradition of Rebel football with recruits, alumni and fans.
The existing weight room will be expanded on the east side, widening the area by 2,000 square feet. The current locker room will also be enhanced and expanded and will include a new player lounge on the west side of the IPF.
The large scale components of the Forward Together campaign remain on track with the new arena scheduled for completion before the 2015-16 season. The expansion of the north end zone and renovations at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will begin as fund-raising and planning evolves. More details on the specific arena location and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium project will be released in the first quarter of 2013.