Saturday, June 24, 2017

XULA wins Thomas Howell Cup for 6th time in 7 years

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana has won the 2016-17 Thomas Howell Cup, the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference's all-sports award, said the GCAC in a Friday announcement.
It's the sixth time that XULA won the award, all in the last seven years.
\The Thomas Howell Cup, named for the GCAC's longtime commissioner, is awarded annually to the school with the most points based on order of finish in various sports. XULA was boosted by GCAC championships in men's cross country, women's cross country, women's volleyball (regular season and tournament), and women's outdoor track and field.
"Xavier is proud to take control of the Thomas Howell Cup once again," said XULA Director of Athletics & Recreation Jason Horn. "Not only did our student-athletes and coaches have another outstanding year, we produced our largest group of graduates in the last 12 years. The athletics department strives daily to live up to our motto: 'Win. Grow. Graduate.' "
The conference did not announce point totals or standings for the Howell Cup, but unofficial scoring by XULA Assistant Athletics Director for Communications Ed Cassierehad XULA with 37 1/2 points. In the seven GCAC championship sports — men's and women's cross country, women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball and men's and women's outdoor track and field — XULA scored 33 1/2 of a possible 41 points.
Although XULA won GCAC volleyball regular-season and tournament championships for the sixth consecutive year, the university was credited with all-sports points only for its regular-season standing. The GCAC also applied that method in men's and women's basketball.
Dillard, the 2015-16 Howell Cup winner, and Edward Waters tied for second place in Cassiere's unofficial scoring with 30 points apiece. Talladega was fourth with 24 1/2 points, followed by SUNO with 17, Tougaloo with 13 and Philander Smith with 11.
"This honor is another testament to Xavier's commitment to excellence, dedication and hard work not only in the classroom, but in everything we do," said XULA Vice President for Student Services Joseph Byrd, "and athletics is no exception. It is because of the vision of our president, Dr. Reynold Verret, our athletic director, Mr. Jason Horn, our coaches and especially our students that we are again recognized for greatness. We are pleased to be honored."
In addition to the conference titles, XULA highlights for the past year included:

     •  7-of-9 teams represented at NAIA National Championship appearances — volleyball, men's cross country, women's cross country, men;'s tennis, women's tennis, men's track and field (individual athlete) and women's track and field (individual athletes).

     •  Nine student-athletes earned NAIA All-America: Catalin FifeaMoses MichealAntoine Richard and Karan Salwan in men's tennis, Charlene Goreau in women's tennis and Clarke AllenRy-Anne RileyTramaine Shannon and Ariane Williams in women's track and field.

     •  Two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans: Salwan and Drew Chatters (women's track and field).

     •  Department GPA increased from 2015-16 to 2016-17.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Gold Nuggets sign 2; recruiting class increases to 6

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana announced Thursday the signing of Vivica Price-Spraggins of Chicago and Whitney Young Magnet High School and Kayla Black of Magnolia, Texas, and Houston's St. Pius X High School to athletic scholarships for volleyball.
The Gold Nuggets have signed six for the 2017 season, which will begin in August. XULA won the last six Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships and earned six consecutive automatic bids during that time to the NAIA National Championship.
Price-Spraggins is a 5-foot-11 middle blocker/right-side hitter. She helped Whitney Young's Dolphins in 2016 go 24-12, win a regional playoff and advance to sectionals. Price-Spraggins hit .402 as a senior with 105 kills, 47 blocks, 22 aces and 53 digs.
Price-Spraggins played five years of club ball — first with Club Kace, then with Chicago Elite. She was a starter for a bronze-medal-winning team at 2016 nationals.
Black, a 5-9 outside hitter, helped St. Pius in 2016 reach the Class 6A quarterfinals of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools playoffs. She was second-team all-state as a senior and junior. Black was her team's MVP in 2016.
Black has nine years of club experience, most recently with Willowbrook but also with Waves and Revolution. She was a starter for a Waves team that placed eighth in nationals in 15s.
Black's paternal grandfather is former NFL player and executive James "Shack" Harris, a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the first African-American quarterback to start and win an NFL playoff game (1974: Los Angeles 19, Washington 10).
Price-Spraggins will major in early elementary education, and Black will be a biology/pre-medical major with plans to pursue a career in pediatric cardiology.

2017-18 XULA Volleyball Signees
NamePos.Ht.Yr.*HometownHigh School
Ariel Bell #OH5-7Fr.White Castle, La.White Castle
Kayla BlackOH5-9Fr.Magnolia, TexasSt. Pius X
Jaida DowdOH5-8Fr.Aurora, Ill.Metea Valley
Eva Le GuillouS5-9Fr.Velizy-Villacoublay, FranceEmmanuel Mounier
Vivica Price-SpragginsMB/RS5-11Fr.Chicago, Ill.Whitney Young Magnet
Lauryn TaylorRS/OH5-9Fr.Sairburn, Ga.Booker T. Washington

* XULA athletic classification in 2017-18
# also will compete in track and field

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Suspension of golf programs leaves JSU players in limbo

JACKSON, Mississippi -- Keelin Floyd is headed into her senior year at Jackson State, and while her scholarship is still good, she’s not going to get to play the game she loves.

Floyd, a member of the soon-to-be-suspended women’s golf program at JSU, said Sunday she’s upset at the department’s decision to cut the programs for budgetary reasons.

JSU athletic director Wheeler Brown said Thursday he is still trying to find a way to save the programs, but Floyd said he informed her two weeks ago the decision to suspend the programs has already been made.

Brown said the department will honor the existing scholarships, but with only one year of school and one year of eligibility left, Floyd finds herself in a veritable no-man’s land when it comes to transfer possibilities.

“It’s my senior year, and I want to play in the SWAC,” she said. “I only have a year of eligibility left, and I’d have to take two years of school to get the same degree I can get at JSU in one.”


NCA&T Belcher Makes US team, Signs Pro Contract With Nike

GREENSBORO, North Carolina -- Another North Carolina A&T student-athlete is turning pro in 2017. Christopher Belcher came out in a North Carolina A&T track and field uniform for his semifinal 100-meter dash race at the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., on Friday. When he came out for the final, the A&T was gone, and he was uniformed completely in Nike.

Belcher, who had one more year of eligibility for indoor track and field, signed a professional contract Nike on Friday, thereby ending his collegiate career as an Aggie. The good news didn't stop there, Belcher also finished third in the U.S. 100m final to earn a prestigious spot on the United States Track and Field team along with Olympian Justin Gatlin and NCAA 100-meter champion Christian Coleman out of the University of Tennessee.

Belcher, who has developed into one of the best sprinters in the world, continued that ascent on Friday through two qualifying races that made him a member of the U.S. national team. There were two semifinal 100m heats. To make Friday's final, Belcher needed to finish in the top-4 of his heat. To make the U.S. team he needed to place in the top-3. With interlocking A&T logo across his chest, Belcher placed fourth in his heat and eighth overall with a time of 10.22. It was close to his slowest time of the season, nearly matching the 10.24 he ran on April 8.

“He had a bad race,” said North Carolina A&T director of track and field programs Duane Ross. Ross said he simply told his star sprinter to fix it. Belcher not only fixed his technique, he changed uniforms. In the two hours between races, Belcher signed with Nike to make the obvious official, he was not going to return to A&T for his final year of indoor track and field. In his new Nike outfit, Belcher ran a 10.06 to finish third behind Coleman's 9.98 and Gatlin's 9.95. The trio will represent the US in London, Aug. 4-13 at the IAAF World Championships.

“We knew it was coming,” said Ross about Belcher signing with Nike. “He is going to have a nice career. He is still going to train in Greensboro, and he is going to finish school, so this is an exciting time for him, for our program and for the entire North Carolina A&T University family. Chris is a prime example of coming in, doing what is asked of you and working hard until you see the types of results you want to see. You still have to work hard. It's not only about talent.”

Belcher turned a lot of eyes toward him when he ran a wind-aided 9.99 at N.C. A&T's Irwin Belk Track on April 15. He carried that over to the MEAC outdoor championships in May when he won three conference gold medals (100m, 200m, 4x100) to help the N.C. A&T men's track and field team win their first conference title in 21 years. A month later, Belcher clocked a 9.93 in a semifinal heat at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore., to become a first-team All-American. His 9.93 is still the third-fastest time in the world this year.

Belcher also earned first-team All-America honors in the 200m and 4x1. The 20.01 he ran at the NCAA championships is the sixth-fastest time in the world in the 200m this year. The 38.48 ran by Belcher and his 4x1 teammates at the NCAA championships (semifinal heat) is the eighth-fastest time in the world this year.

It has been a banner year for Aggies turning pro. Tarik Cohen was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears in April. Cutter Dyals was taken in the 17th round of the major league baseball draft in June by the Atlanta Braves.


Alcorn shifts football game with Alabama State

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- The Alcorn State University football program will face Alabama State in a nationally televised game on ESPNU with the kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5 at the ASU Football Stadium.

The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 but was untelevised.

"Anytime you get a chance to play a nationally televised game it is great, not only the football program, but also for publicity of Alcorn State University. It's great exposure for both schools and the conference," said Alcorn head coach Fred McNair.

It marks the second straight season that the Braves and the Hornets will play on an ESPN Network game. Last year, Alcorn defeated ASU 21-18 on ESPN3 at home on Sept. 10, 2016.

The Braves are 22-18 all-time against the Hornets with a combined score of 899-868 (+31). Alcorn is looking to defeat ASU for the fourth year in a row after winning 31-14 in 2015 and 33-7 in 2014.

The Braves have gone undefeated against SWAC East Division opponents in back-to-back years and have won three consecutive SWAC East Division titles.


Monday, June 19, 2017

SAU's Jeffries Wins USTFCCCA National Communications Honor

RALEIGH, North Carolina  – Sports Information Director Anthony Jeffries of Saint Augustine's University was selected the NCAA Division II national winner of the Excellence in Communications Award on Monday, June 19 for his outstanding track and field coverage for the 2016-17 season. The honor was announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Jeffries was one of three honorees picked by the USTFCCCA communications staff after a nomination process. The other recipients are Jared Prescott of the University of Tennessee (NCAA Division I) and Alex Keil of Illinois College (NCAA Division III). The award highlights athletics communications representatives at conferences and/or schools who have committed to outstanding coverage and support of collegiate track and field. To read more about the honorees, click HERE.

Jeffries, in his 11th season at Saint Augustine's University, received the award for promoting the internationally renowned Saint Augustine's University track and field program led by legendary Athletic Director and Head Coach George Williams, who has won the most NCAA track and field championships (39) of any coach, regardless of division.

"I am very proud and elated to be recognized by the USTFCCCA on a national level," Jeffries said. "I would like to thank Coach Williams who has supported me over the years. His teams provide plenty of material to promote."

Marketing for this season began in the summer of 2016 for Jeffries, who helped the nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show set up an interview with Coach Williams. The track and field team and Coach Williams were also featured prominently on's The Undefeated website. In August 2016, Jeffries wrote an article about the George Williams Exhibit at the City of Raleigh Museum which appeared on the website of Track & Field News, which bills itself as the bible of the sport.

In addition to writing numerous articles during the indoor and outdoor seasons, Jeffries placed photographs and videos on social media during the 2017 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Bradenton, Fla. which were well-received by the public. The more popular videos were the Falcons receiving their fifth straight men's outdoor national title while confetti poured on them and Tia-Adana Belle (Sr./St. George, Barbados) breaking the Division II record for her third consecutive 400-meter hurdles crown.

His championship recaps were published on several websites including He also was a member of the CIAA Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Committees, providing recaps for the conference as well as the university during the CIAA championships.

The accolade is the third in the profession for Jeffries, who was the 2008 and 2012 CIAA Sports Information Director of the Year. A Raleigh, N.C. native, Jeffries covers 14 sports for the athletic program at Saint Augustine's University.


Dave Robbins' Virginia Union legacy has passed the test of time

RICHMOND, Virginia -- Almost a decade has passed since Dave Robbins hung up his coaching whistle after making basketball history at Virginia Union University.

Robbins, 74, spends his time on the golf course, traveling with his wife and fishing on a pond on a little farm the couple bought in Amelia County, about 45 miles outside Richmond. He still attends Virginia Union home games, and he keeps up with the game, loves the way U.Va.’s Tony Bennett runs his program and occasionally works on a book that he’s been drafting for several years.

At the annual Virginia Sports Hall of Fame golf tournament and reception held two weeks ago at Staunton’s Ironwood Golf Club, Robbins (Class of 2012) showed up, which was a treat for the impressive gathering.

Most younger-generation basketball fans aren’t familiar with Robbins’ accomplishments. In 1978, he took over a Union program that had never won a CIAA title and never won an NCAA tournament game. It was a controversial hire at the time because Robbins was the first white coach in the CIAA, historically made up of predominantly black colleges and universities.

Nobody complained over the next 30 years as Robbins directed the Panthers to three Division II national championships (1980, 1992, 2005), 14 CIAA championships and 21 NCAA tournament appearances. Along the way, he compiled a record of 713-194 and produced five NBA players: Charles Oakley, Ben Wallace, A.J. English, Terry Davis and Jamie Waller.