Alumnus Supports Life Impact of Sports

Jessups make major gift to Ole Miss athletics campaign

Lisa and Ross Jessup (center) enjoy dinner in Italy with their sons (from left) Griffin, Alex, Pierce and Chase. The Jessups have made a major gift to Ole Miss athletics for facilities improvements because they believe participating in team sports helps youth learn lifelong lessons. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – 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 campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes.

The Jessups live in Austin, Texas, where they 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 teaching valuable lessons such as 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.”

Ross (left) and Lisa Jessup have made a major gift to Champions. Now., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes. Submitted photo

The Jessups hope their gift 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 Jessups who understand the importance of private support,” said Denson Hollis, the foundation’s 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.”

The Jessups’ desire to help youth develop into adults is evident in their history of giving and service. Ross Jessup has provided leadership on several nonprofit boards including Westlake Pop Warner, 12 Fields Foundations, Shoot on Cancer and the local Boy Scouts of America council.

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 named Best CFO in Central Texas in 2018. In his acceptance speech, he joked that his Ole Miss accounting professors would be 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. 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.

To make a gift to Ole Miss athletics, visit Champions. Now. or contact Denson Hollis at or 615-957-4372.