Current Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork could emerge as a candidate for Nebraska's vacant athletic director job, according to USA Today Sports.
Per the report from Dan Wolken, Turnkey Search firm, the same firm currently conducting the Huskers' search, has also been hired by Bjork and Ole Miss to find a new head coach in the wake of Hugh Freeze's dismissal.
"Given the expected salary for this job — Nebraska is willing to pay more than $1 million per year, USA TODAY Sports has been told by multiple people familiar with the process — and a fully vested Big Ten budget of more than $100 million, it’s a highly coveted position.
"One candidate multiple industry insiders have pointed to as a target with interest from Nebraska is Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork, who grew up and went to college nearby in Kansas and is one of the superstar fundraisers in the business."
When Nebraska announced it was cutting ties with Shawn Eichorst after a Sep. 16 loss to Northern Illinois, Chancellor Ronnie Green and UNL President Hank Bounds – Mississippi’s commissioner of higher education in 2009 – stated that the department would look for the best qualified candidate regardless of their ties to Nebraska.
There are a few red flags as it relates to Bjork and a potential move to Lincoln, however. The Ole Miss football program is currently on probation from the NCAA after an investigation uncovered 21 football infractions and a lack of institutional control charge. The violations occurred both during Freeze's tenure and Houston Nutt's before him (from 2008 to 2011).
Bjork's reputation, at least throughout the rest of college football, hasn't been tainted by the issues, though, according to Wolken.
"Bjork, however, didn’t hire Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss, and it’s widely known that the support to keep Freeze until his phone records revealed phone calls to sexually suggestive businesses came from above Bjork’s head. He remains highly respected in the industry and understands the public relations side of the job, completely opposite of the way Eichorst operated. "
When Nebraska announced its interim athletic director, former Husker great Dave Rimington, on Sep. 26, Green said the Huskers hoped to move quickly through the search process for a permanent candidate. Former Nebraska player and current University of Nebraska-Omaha athletic director Trev Alberts, rumored by many to be a leading candidate for the position, has already reportedly taken his name out of consideration.
Update: Oct. 5, 2017, 5:40 p.m.
According to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Bjork denied Thursday afternoon that he is a candidate for the vacant athletic director spot at Nebraska and that he's interested in the job.
"I'm committed here. I'm committed to the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss athletics. Chancellor (Jeff) Vitter has been steadfast in his support and he's been terrific to work with," Bjork said in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger. "We have a lot of work to do and we're going to see that work get completed. I know we have challenges, but there's more opportunities than challenges and we're going to seize on those opportunities."