One of the most accomplished women in the history of Ole Miss Athletics, Lynnette Johnson, is tying a bow on her illustrious career with the Rebels.
Johnson has announced her retirement effective May 1, concluding a 32-year tenure with the university. She spent her first nine years as an athletic trainer and the last 23 as the senior woman administrator, including her final three as deputy athletics director.
“No one has given more of themselves to Ole Miss than Lynnette Johnson,” said Keith Carter, Ole Miss Vice Chancellor of Intercollegiate Athletics. “Both as a trainer and administrator, Lynnette has broken down walls for women in sports and has championed many important issues of equity, not just at Ole Miss but throughout college athletics. Congratulations to Lynnette on a historic career with our university, and I want to personally thank her for dedication, leadership and friendship.”
“It is hard to believe 32 years has gone by so fast,” Johnson said. “I have been so honored to support and serve the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans. The life-time relationships that have been built are the most special to me. It is so rewarding to be able to say that I have loved my career, and I hope that has shown in my work. I look forward to continuing to support all our programs as a fan. I am an Ole Miss Rebel!”
As a sports administrator working with up to 16 of the department’s 18 programs, Johnson’s teams combined for 17 SEC Western Division championships and nine overall regular-season or tournament titles. Among the countless highlights, the 2005 Rebel men’s tennis squad advanced to the NCAA Final Four; the women’s basketball team reached the 2007 Elite Eight; Soccer played in the Sweet Sixteen in 2015; Softball earned Super Regional berths in both 2017 and 2019; Volleyball captured the NIVC title in 2017; Women’s Golf was crowned SEC champions for the first time in 2019 and Rifle achieved its first conference title this year.
Johnson’s tenure includes multiple national champions. In 2009, Devin Britton became the youngest player ever, and just the third freshman, to win the NCAA men’s tennis singles title. Another tennis national champion emerged nine years later, as Arianne Hartono claimed the first title for the Ole Miss women’s program. A Rebel men’s golfer also took home an NCAA championship under Johnson’s administration with Braden Thornberry’s remarkable performance for the 2017 crown.
Academically, Johnson’s programs excelled in the classroom as well, putting up high graduation rates, multiple Academic All-America honors and Taylor Medalists, as well as the first athlete to be inducted into the school’s Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society chapter.
In addition, Johnson has overseen human resources, student-athlete development, gender equity and policy-management for Ole Miss Athletics. She also represented the department on countless campus, conference and NCAA committees, including serving twice on the NCAA Softball Committee.
Johnson was also part of the Ole Miss capital facilities team that helped coordinate, plan and design many important athletics venues on campus, including the Tuohy Basketball Center, Gillom Athletics Performance Center, Galtney Indoor Tennis Center, Ole Miss Track & Field Complex, Lamar Center (Rifle), Tosh Family Short Course, FedEx Academic Support Center and multiple renovations.
In her time as a member of the Ole Miss sports medicine staff, Johnson worked with all Rebel teams but primarily with football and women’s basketball. In 1997, she became the first female head athletic trainer overseeing all sports in the Southeastern Conference.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native is a 1988 graduate of East Carolina University and a 1990 graduate of Ole Miss with a master’s degree in education. In 2018, Johnson earned her doctorate in higher education from Ole Miss. She is an Ole Miss Alumni lifetime member and M-Club Alumni member. She is married to Tal Johnson, and the couple has two daughters, Alexandria and Samantha.
Comments on Johnson’s decorated career:
“When I was the coach at Ole Miss, I was fortunate to have great staff around me, and that included Lynnette as our trainer. She was a hard worker and extremely dedicated to the players. They loved her then and still love her today. Later, she became the senior woman administrator and has done a tremendous job. I hate to see her retire because she’s done so much for Ole Miss, but I wish her the very best in retirement.”
– Van Chancellor, Former Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Head Coach (1978-97), Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2001 inductee), Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2007 inductee)
“I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Lynnette since the late 90s. Not only was she a joy to work with, she always performed her role beyond expectations. Her job may be filled, but she will be difficult to replace. Lynnette will be greatly missed by Ole Miss Athletics and the university.”
– Pete Boone, Former Ole Miss Athletics Director (1995-98, 2002-12)
“Lynnette has been instrumental for me personally since I’ve arrived on campus. She has been a mentor, a friend and sometimes a cheerleader for me. I hate to see her go, but I’m grateful for the time spent. Lynnette will always be a part of my family and a major part of this program’s success in the near future.”
– Yolett McPhee-McCuin, Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Head Coach
“I’ve worked with Lynnette for all 21 years I’ve been at Ole Miss. I have a tremendous respect for her work ethic and her excellence in all that she has brought to this university over her 32 years. When we were selected by the NCAA baseball committee to host our first regional back in 2004, I asked if Lynnette could oversee the event, because I wanted it done right. Many years later, Lynnette’s work in her first few years as regional director has changed the face of our operation. Ours is just one of many sports she has affected in a positive way over her three decades at Ole Miss.”
– Mike Bianco, Ole Miss Baseball Head Coach
“No one has given more of themselves to Ole Miss than Lynnette Johnson. Both as a trainer and administrator, Lynnette has broken down walls for women in sports and has championed many important issues of equity, not just at Ole Miss but throughout college athletics. Congratulations to Lynnette on a historic career with our university, and I want to personally thank her for dedication, leadership and friendship.”
– Keith Carter, Ole Miss Vice Chancellor of Intercollegiate Athletics
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports