OXFORD, Miss. (OleMissSports.com) – With the team bowl bound for the second straight year, Ole Miss is continuing to invest in its football program by agreeing in principle to salary increases for head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, as announced Tuesday by Athletics Director Ross Bjork.
After guiding the Rebels to a 7-5 regular season, Freeze's contract has been extended by one year to the maximum four years, and his base salary will rise to $3 million and increase by $150,000 each year. After a 2-10 record in 2011, Ole Miss has earned its second consecutive bowl invitation with a berth in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Incentives for Freeze's new contract will be based on Southeastern Conference championships, postseason accomplishments and academic performance. In addition, the salary pool for the Ole Miss football staff will increase by 12 percent with $400,000 of new money.
"Our confidence in Coach Freeze goes far beyond his progress on the field and in recruiting," said Chancellor Dan Jones. "With the integrity with which he leads our football program, he has demonstrated he will win the right way. Our student athletes and our football program could not be in better hands."
"In just two short years, Coach Freeze and his staff have placed Ole Miss among college football's top rising programs," Bjork said. "Their hard work and devotion in all facets of the program have resulted in postseason berths, elite recruiting success, personal development of our student-athletes and a renewed energy throughout Rebel Nation. With these salary commitments and our on-going Forward Together Campaign, we are committed to placing our football program among the SEC's best and make the Ole Miss family proud. We want Hugh Freeze to be our football coach for a long time to come and our commitment is to invest in the present and future success."
"I would like to thank Dr. Jones, Ross and our administration for their continued commitment to this program," Freeze said. "The support they have provided our staff has been unwavering and is most evident in the current renovation of our facility, which I can't wait to see re-open. I also appreciate the increases in salaries for our assistant coaches and support staff, who are very deserving. We are continuing to take steps in our journey, and our staff remains fully committed to the ultimate goal of returning championships to Ole Miss. Oxford is an amazing place to call home, and I'm grateful for how the community has embraced our families."
In addition to the salary commitments, Ole Miss is concluding a $12.5 million renovation and expansion of the Manning Center as part of the Forward Together campaign. Among the improvements, which will be completed by January, are a full nutrition center and dining hall; 200-seat team meeting room; new head coach's office; new front door and recruiting room; expanded weight room; and enhanced locker room with new player lounges.
The large scale components of the Forward Together campaign remain on track with the new arena scheduled for completion for 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.