Ole Miss Interim Athletics Director Keith Carter, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Bob Biggs
and MSU Athletic Director John Cohen

Did you know that the Southeastern Conference’s first-ever non-campus office was in Jackson, Mississippi?

You wouldn’t be alone if you said no.

But now, at the corner of Pearl and Farish Streets in downtown Jackson, history has been recognized – permanently – with a Mississippi Department of Archives and History historical marker.

The office was on 13th floor of the Standard Life Building in what had been the law offices of ex-Mississippi governor Martin Sennet (Mike) Conner, the league’s first full-time commissioner beginning in 1940. 

It was a fact that beloved hall of fame sports writer and Jacksonian Rick Cleveland (who served as emcee for the unveiling) learned over lunch with former Mississippi Governor William Winter ten years ago.

Cleveland wrote for Mississippi Today:

“Did you know Mike Conner was the first commissioner of the Southeastern Conference?” (Governor Winter asked).

Well, no….

I wrote a column that read much like a breaking news story, because nobody seemed to know about the original SEC office. I called officials at State and Ole Miss. They didn’t know. I called Mike Slive, then the commissioner of the SEC. He didn’t know.

Everyone seemed to agree that something should be done to commemorate the fact that the nation’s most wildly successful collegiate athletic conference had its beginnings with a two-person (Conner and his secretary) office in downtown Jackson.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, SEC member school presidents and athletic directors from Ole Miss and Mississippi State University and members of late Governor Conner’s family (grandson Bob Biggs among them) were in attendance.