Western Kentucky has confirmed that Ross Bjork — the nation’s youngest athletic director — will be leaving the Hilltoppers after just two years to take over at Ole Miss. The school’s statement includes this quote from Bjork:
“I have decided to accept the director of athletics position at the University of Mississippi and depart WKU. While I was not seeking to leave WKU, the opportunity to oversee and manage the athletics department at a historic and prestigious university in the Southeastern Conference was one that we had to examine and ultimately accept.”
Interestingly, Bjork’s WKU contract contains a clause that could force Ole Miss to schedule the Hilltoppers in football and basketball. And not just in Oxford.
In the past year, we’ve seen more and more small schools build “if you leave for another school you’ll have to schedule us” clauses into the contracts of ADs and even basketball coaches. But what makes this deal unique is that it calls for Bjork to “use his best efforts at the hiring institution to schedule two-year home/home game series between the men’s and women’s basketball teams and one home/home series for the football team.”
“Best efforts” is awfully vague and it would seem that Bjork and Ole Miss would have some serious wiggle room thanks to that phrase. Basketball probably wouldn’t likely be a problem anyway, but football might cause a hold-up. No Southeastern Conference team is going to want to visit a lower rung FBS program like WKU (although Mississippi State did play at UAB this past season). Whether it happens or not, it was a sharp idea by the folks at WKU. Not only would they get national exposure, they’d get national exposure for their own campus, stadium and fans.
We’ll see if Bjork indeed makes his “best efforts” to line up the Rebels and Hilltoppers in football in Bowling Green anytime soon.
UPDATE — Ole Miss has now made the hiring of Bjork official on its end, too.