Ross Jessup, a 1985 graduate of the University of Mississippi, and his wife Lisa have made a major gift to CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s (OMAF) campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes.
The Jessups live in Austin, Texas, where he and Lisa have raised four sons — all of whom played various team and individual sports.
Having witnessed the influence of sports on his own children, Jessup believes athletics provides youth an outlet for activity and entertainment while helping them learn valuable lessons like teamwork.
“Being part of a team shapes young people in many ways,” Jessup said. “They learn the importance of working together and helping each other. They learn how to handle failure, grow from it and do better next time. They begin to understand that many of the lessons sports teaches, such as discipline, dedication and practice, can be applied to all areas of their lives.”
The Jessups hope their gift to Ole Miss Athletics can similarly help shape student-athletes on the collegiate level.
“With respect to the continued longevity of competitive athletics programs at Ole Miss, it’s encouraging to see families like the Jessup’s who understand the importance of private support,” said Denson Hollis, OMAF CEO. “We are so grateful for their gift and believe it will significantly contribute to the success we all want to see our student-athletes achieve.
“Ever since Ross and I met by chance at the Monterrey airport in July 2021, his engagement with Ole Miss has increased exponentially,” Hollis continued, adding that Ross has visited campus several times in the past two years. “Engagement is the driving force for philanthropy, and we are so grateful to have developed an incredible relationship with the Jessup family and to now be in lock step with them on supporting Ole Miss.”
The Jessups’ desire to help the youth develop into young adults is evident in their history of giving and service. Ross Jessup has provided leadership on several non-profit boards including Westlake Pop Warner, 12 Fields Foundations, Shoot on Cancer, the local Boy Scouts of America chapter and others.
Although Jessup started his career in public accounting in Dallas in 1985, the entrepreneurial spirit took him elsewhere.
In 2000, he co-founded Open Lending, for which he has served as president, chief financial officer and chief operations officer. Jessup was awarded Best CFO in Central Texas in 2018. In his acceptance speech, he joked that his Ole Miss accounting professors would be very surprised to see him receive the award.
In June 2020, Open Lending went public and ranked No. 2 behind DraftKings in most successful IPOs that year. Open Lending trades under the ticker “LPRO.”
Jessup retired from Open Lending in October 2022 but remains active as a strategic adviser to the CEO and CFO. In their free time, the Jessups enjoy the outdoors at their ranch in the Texas hill country, as well as tennis and golf with friends and family.
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation