Ole Miss hires Turnkey Search to assist in finding next coach

Ross Bjork
Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss doesn’t currently have a permanent head football coach, so it’s calling in outside help to find one.

Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork told The Clarion-Ledger Friday that the school has hired well-known search firm Turnkey Search on Aug. 31.

Turnkey founder, president and CEO Len Perna and managing director Gene DeFilippo are the two main figures from Turnkey will be working with Ole Miss in the search. DeFilippo, who previously serve as an athletic director at Villanova and Boston College, handles the daily interactions with the school.

On Tuesday, Bjork said DeFilippo was on campus to tour the school’s facilities and visit with interim coach Matt Luke.

Despite Turnkey’s assistance, Bjork said he has his own list of coaching candidates. He previously has said that he will make the final decision on who the school hires as its next coach.

Turnkey has previously worked with LSU and Temple in their coaching searches, as well as Alabama, Tennessee, Michigan and Minnesota in their athletic director searches.

Luke – a former Ole Miss center who has spent most of his coaching career as an assistant at the school across two stints – replaced Hugh Freeze as coach on an interim basis in late July after the latter resigned when calls to escort services were discovered on his school-issued phone. Bjork said at the time Ole Miss “would have exercised the termination clause in the contract for moral turpitude” if Freeze had not resigned.

Luke, who has called coaching Ole Miss his “dream job,” so far is 2-1 as coach, with wins coming against South Alabama and UT-Martin. He came under criticism this past week after the Rebels squandered a 16-7 lead in a 27-16 loss at Cal.

Earlier this month, Ole Miss had a three-day hearing before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions over 21 allegations against its football program, including 15 Level I violations. Most of the allegations took place under Freeze’s five-season tenure as coach from 2012-16.

RELATED: Can a walk-on help replace the SEC’s leading receiver at Ole Miss?

(You can follow Brad Logan on Twitter @BradLoganCOTE)

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