Realtree founder invests in next generation of Ole Miss Rebels
Bill Jordan‘s most recent gift to the University of Mississippi‘s athletics programs represents his desire to see current and future student-athletes succeed.
“Even here at our office, I do everything for the next generation,” said Jordan, creator and CEO of Realtree, a major maker of camouflage hunting gear. “We’ve been very fortunate and blessed in this business.
“Knowing all the things that Ole Miss has going on with the renovations and needing to remain competitive facility-wise, we were happy that we were able to give back.”
The Jordans’ $1 million gift is directed to CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation fundraising campaign focused on improving facilities for student-athletes. In 2015, another $1 million gift from the Jordans named the practice field inside the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.
Jordan, a Columbus, Georgia, native who caught Archie Manning’s passes as wide receiver from 1969 to 1971, said his gifts to Ole Miss stem from friendships he developed as a former player and alumnus.
“Having played there and having maintained connections with my former teammates whom I have an opportunity to see at football games, reminds me of the brotherhood I had when I played sports there and reinforced our commitment to Ole Miss,” said Jordan, adding that he has remained in contact with Ole Miss coaches and athletics directors, including Keith Carter, vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics.
“Keith has been instrumental as not just as AD but as a friend. I’ve known Keith for a long time, even before he got the AD title. He’s been very good to our family and he’s a big hunter, so we have a feel-good connection. When Keith and I talk, about 50% of the conversation is on hunting.”
Carter said he greatly appreciates his relationship with the Jordan family: Bill and his wife, Shannon; son Tyler, a 2016 UM graduate; daughter Graycen, a high school senior; and son Colton, 14.
“The Jordans are a very special family and have been so good to Ole Miss over the years,” Carter said. “You can clearly see through their passion and energy that they truly care and believe in the things we are doing here in athletics.
“This gift will help us continue to pursue our goal of winning SEC and national championships. We look forward to our relationship with Bill, Tyler and the rest of the family for a long time. They are the epitome of Ole Miss Rebels.”
Bill Jordan graduated from Ole Miss in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and returned to Georgia to work at his family’s boat dealership. In 1983, he started Spartan Archery Products in the back room.
At the same time, he began designing and developing what would become Realtree, an acclaimed camouflage pattern, which he introduced at the 1986 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade show.
In the late ’80s, Jordan introduced the first Team Realtree logo. The company employs more than 80 people and boasts more than 2,500 licensees of its patterns. Its logo adorns thousands of outdoor and lifestyle products.
In fact, helmets embossed with a Realtree fishing pattern and worn by the Rebels in the 2022 Kentucky football game won UniSwag‘s Helmet of the Year among all NCAA helmets and was featured on the set of “SEC Nation,” the SEC Network‘s pregame show.
Jordan’s achievements earned him induction into the Georgia/Alabama Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame and the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2012, the Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame honored him with its Distinguished American Award.
By Bill Dabney