Saturday, July 31, 2010

S.C. State, Pirates' Sanchez cited in improving MEAC

NORFOLK, VA - South Carolina State is the clear favorite to repeat as Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football champ, but league coaches say that if the Bulldogs win the title they will have earned it. The word "parity" was heard quite often Friday at the MEAC's football media shindig, where league coaches voted S.C. State quarterback Malcolm Long and Hampton linebacker Julio Sanchez preseason players of the year.

"I'd say this is the best it's ever been," said Norfolk State's Pete Adrian, who is in his 13th year in the conference as a head coach and assistant. "There might have been better teams, … but out of the original members that are here, every one of them can beat you. You have to be ready to play."

Florida A&M was picked to finish second. Adrian's Spartans, on paper he said the best returning team he's had, were voted third. Hampton University was picked fourth.

"That's what the coaches around the league think, but that's not something we use as a measuring stick," said Pirates coach Donovan Rose, who overhauled his staff after a 5-6 record and uncharacteristic sixth-place finish in the conference.


New FAMU AD comes from Ole Miss

FAMU's president James Ammons confirmed Friday that Horne has accepted the job as the Rattlers' athletic director, under a three year contract.

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — Derek Horne, an associate athletic director at Ole Miss, has been hired as the athletic director at Florida A&M, FAMU president James Ammons confirmed tonight.

“I think Derek has a wide-range of experiences at the University of Mississippi and in the SEC, a conference that is a football powerhouse,” Ammons said. Ammons touted Horne’s leadership abilities, saying that he has “the potential to help us usher in a new era in Rattlers sports.”

According to an offer letter sent by the school to Horne and obtained by the Democrat, Horne will receive a three-year contract at $200,000 annually. “This offer is conditioned upon your written acceptance, and successful completion and review of a criminal background check,” Ammons wrote in his offer letter to Horne.


Horne accepts FAMU athletic director job
FAMU picked to finish second in MEAC »

NSU receiver Hayden ruled ineligible this season

Coach Pete Adrian has stated that Norfolk State's recently-released Academic Progress Rate (for 2008-09) was tops in the MEAC and among all HBCUs.

Norfolk, VA -- Norfolk State wide receiver P.J. Hayden, the second leading receiver on last year's team, will redshirt this season after being ruled academically ineligible. His loss means Norfolk State will be trying to replace more than two-thirds of its receiving yardage, more than half its receptions and all but one touchdown. In addition to Hayden, the Spartans lost quarterback Dennis Brown to graduation and receiver Chris Bell, who left a year early to attempt to go pro.

Coach Pete Adrian said the academic issue was not grade-point-average related, but occurred because Hayden repeated a class and didn't meet the NCAA's credit-hour requirement. He will remain in school and participate with the scout team. Running back DeAngelo Branche becomes the team's leader among returning players in receiving yards with 250, and the top pass-catcher due in camp will be wideout Jeremy Wicker. He caught 25 passes for 191 yards.

"We have four guys who played regularly," Adrian said. "We had three freshmen redshirt - they have speed - and we brought in a JUCO (Montel Gamble). We've also got some running backs who are hybrids and can catch the ball and run with it."


Albany State Rams: 'Get it done'

ALBANY, GA — Every college football season begins with uncertainty. Players come and go, strategies change and teams that don’t win a championship the year before look for areas to improve the next season. Albany State is no exception, coming off a season where it started 7-0, only to lose three out of its last four and finish the season at 8-3, leaving area fans scratching their heads.

The team was back at the drawing board this summer, but as far as head coach Mike White is concerned, there is no doubt the Rams can add another Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship to their stash this season. “We think we’re going to be a very good football team in 2010,” said White, who has led ASU to four championships as he enters his 10th season as the Rams’ head coach. “We have to constantly improve. Each year, the goal is the same, to improve on what we did (the last year) and find those things we have to work on and get ready for the season.”

As if ASU didn’t have enough incentive, the SIAC’s preseason predictions — released Wednesday — picked nine Rams for the first team, but surprisingly picked the team to finish second behind Tuskegee. Those rankings don’t matter to White, though, who said his team’s play on the field does all the talking. “That’s the difference in being at Albany State,” White said. “You just gotta get it done.”


SC State Leads MEAC 2010 Preseason Poll

NORFOLK, VA – Two-time defending champion South Carolina State has been picked to win the 2010 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title by a poll of league coaches and sports Information directors, the league announced Friday at its annual press luncheon at the downtown Marriott. SC State head football coach emeritus Willie Jeffries served as Em Cee for the event.

Friday's predictions marked the fourth consecutive time Coach Buddy Pough's team has been picked to win the coveted crown which the Bulldogs have captured each of the last two seasons. The only season SC State did not live up to its previous preseason billing was the 2008 campaign when Pough's team finished second.

S.C. State Coach Oliver "Buddy Pough Bulldogs are once again the MEAC favorite to three-peat as conference champions.

Pough, who has to find replacements for 10 starters -- including All-America running back Will Ford, who ended his career as the all-time leading rusher in SC State and MEAC history – said the selection of his team as this year's preseason favorite, demonstrates the respect the conference has for the Bulldog program.

"It's a tremendous tribute to our program to be selected to win our league again," Pough said. "It shows the respect the coaches and SIDs around the league has for our program, our players, and our staff and also for what we have managed to do the last two years.


When the halftime show is better than the game

Tokyo, Japan -- University marching bands can be seen taking the field at halftime shows throughout the United States during football season. The hundreds-strong groups consist of brass, a huge drum section and woodwinds, and keep the football-hungry fans entertained before the second half. Unless you are in the South, that is. There, the football game is just the lead-up; the bands are the show.

"There are two battles going on: There's the football game and the bands," says Brian Snell, drum major and casting director for Drumline Live, a touring show highlighting the musical traditions of the United States' Historically Black Colleges and Universities. "The team makes a great play and you hear the crowd, then the band is great and you hear the crowd: There's so much more going on to keep you entertained."

In the 2002 sleeper hit movie Drumline, Nick Cannon plays a particularly talented snare drummer who joins one of the country's most respected marching bands. As in real life, the musicians find themselves in serious rivalries with other schools, with the high-precision bands interrupting each other midperformance, and the fans as rabid about the high-energy music and dancing as they are about the football.

"There are situations where we're going into a hostile territory, and it's like, 'Hey, you're not our band. What are you doing here? Get out of here!'" he says.

With a cast consisting of nearly 40 top musicians from throughout the South, the rivalry is the first thing the cast of Drumline Live had to overcome, Snell--an alumni of top drumline school Florida A&M--says. "At the end of the day, we do respect each other's organizations, we respect our rivals, we all represent the same band. We love our craft and we want to promote it.

"But, when it comes to Saturday night, if you are cross that stadium, you're not my friend!"


Friday, July 30, 2010

Playoff or pay-off? MEAC decision a 'win-win'

Norfolk, VA - There's a difficult decision ahead for Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference football, and there may not be a right or wrong answer considering both of the given options have merit.

"A win-win situation," according to Norfolk State football coach Pete Adrian.

Just as the FCS is expanding its playoff format from 16 to 20 teams this season, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schools are weighing in on the idea of giving up the automatic bid afforded its champion, beginning in 2011, to return to a bowl game against the champion of the nation's other Historically Black Colleges and Universities league, the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Talk of the potential Legacy Bowl has gone on for some time. Decision day is nearing.


Norfolk State University "Hot Ice" vs. North Carolina A&T State University "Golden Delight"

Flowers named JCSU offensive coordinator

Successful high school coach returns to alma mater

Maurice Flowers greatest coaching challenge will come from his college alma mater. Flowers, Johnson C. Smith’s new offensive coordinator, will be responsible over a unit that averaged 18.7 points and 279.5 yards per game in 2009. Both ranked near the bottom of the CIAA in a 3-7 campaign. “I’m excited about it,” said Flowers, 40, a 1991 JCSU graduate who resigned from Chester (S.C.) High in May. “I want to get my feet wet. I’m looking forward to it. It’s short notice, but that’s no excuse.”

Flowers developed a reputation as one of the top offensive coaches in the Charlotte region, earning playoff berths at Olympic, West Charlotte and Chester. In two seasons at Chester, the Cyclones went 21-6 and advanced to the 2008 S.C. 3A championship game. Flowers' 2007 West Charlotte team went 13-2 and advanced to the N.C. 4A semifinals and his 2006 Olympic squad tied a school record with 10 wins.

“He was a potential candidate (for the position) last year, but it didn’t work out,” second-year Golden Bulls head coach Steve Aycock said. “He’s here now, and I’m looking forward to his contribution. It’s a situation where he’s confident in what he does and I can’t wait to see what he does in the college ranks.”


Origin of the Tennessee State University Football Program

Joe Gilliam, Sr., followed the legendary John Merritt to Tennessee State University, where, as defensive coordinator, he helped the Tigers to four undefeated seasons and seven Black College National Titles in a 20-year span. He served as TSU head coach from 1989 to 1992, earning Ohio Valley Conference Coach Of The Year honors in 1990.

He is the father of former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joe Gilliam, Jr., (deceased) and the grandfather of R&B singer/record producer, Joi Gilliam. "Jefferson Street" Joe Gilliam, Jr., was a two-time All-American at TSU and 11th round draft pick of the Steelers in 1972. Coach Gilliam was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame in 2007.

White: SIAC title will be won on field — not with votes

ALBANY, GA — Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference predictions? What predictions? As far as Albany State head football coach Mike White is concerned, the SIAC’s predicted order of finish for the 2010 season Wednesday didn’t happen. “I have no reaction (to the SIAC predictions),” White said. “I understand what it is, but (I think) everything is solved by going on the field and taking care of business on Saturdays.”

That may be true, but that fact is, the SIAC coaches picked nine players from Albany State for the Preseason All-Conference team — the most in the conference — but didn’t pick the Rams to win it all, choosing Tuskegee University instead. “Tuskegee’s been the champ the past few years,” White said. “They’re well-deserved to be picked first.”

While ASU had the most official All-Conference team members, in reality, they were tied with Tuskegee, Fort Valley State and Kentucky State with eight selections. White confirmed Thursday that defensive linesman Joshua Ingram (Sr.) — a first-teamer — will not be returning next season. “I believe some of (those All-Conference teams are) misleading,” White said. “(For instance), Ingram is no longer with the team, so he won’t be back next year. ... It just boils down to trying to stay healthy and finish some football games.”


Collins: It's time for Alcorn State to win

NATCHEZ, MS — Alcorn State head football coach Earnest Collins had one message for Braves fans Thursday night. It’s time to win. Collins and Alcorn offensive coordinator Michael Armour and defensive coordinator Zach Shay addressed Braves fans at the annual Alcorn State Powwow on the ASU Natchez campus. “We’re not going to be satisfied just beating Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State every year,” Collins said. “We want to win SWAC championships. You didn’t hear me say that last year. But what I’m saying now is that we expect to win.”

Collins said his team has built off last season’s 14-7 victory over Jackson State in the season-ending Capital City Classic, and has ridden that momentum into this season. “The phenomenal thing about that game was we played as a team on both sides of the ball,” Collins said. “The offense scored two quick touchdowns and that was all we needed. We held Jackson State to minus-12 yards rushing, and anytime you can do that, you’re going to win the football game. “I told the guys after the game that we were on our way if they just continued to do what they were doing.”


GSU's Kim Young Named UNO Volleyball Head Coach

NEW ORLEANS, LA - University of New Orleans interim athletic director Amy Champion announced the hiring of Kim Young as the school's new head volleyball coach on Wednesday afternoon.

Young comes to UNO after spending the last six years in a similar role at Grambling State University, where she compiled a 128-79 overall record and an impressive 45-2 mark in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) play.

In five of the last six years, Young's season has come to a conclusion in the league tournament's championship game with all six campaigns highlighted by a SWAC West Division championship.

"Kim has a very successful track record as a coach and recruiter here in the state of Louisiana," said Champion. "When she came in for her interview, the energy and enthusiasm that she had for becoming our next volleyball coach was recognized quickly by our staff."

"We are excited to have Kim as part of our staff and feel that the experience she provides, both as a head coach and a former student-athlete and will give her the tools to build on the recent success of our volleyball program."

An accomplished player during her time at Grambling, Young was a three-time SWAC Player of the Year for head coach Fredrick Payne from 1996-1998, leading the Tigers to league titles in 1996 and 1997.

Her success as a collegiate player led to a stint at the next level with the United States Professional Volleyball League. The East St. Louis, Illinois native had the opportunity to play for the nearby St. Louis Quest while also participating in professional competition in Japan and the Dominican Republic.

Coach Young was a 2009 inductee into the Grambling State University Alumni Hall of Fame Gallery of Distinction.

Young returned to Grambling as an assistant coach in 2003 and earned her Masters' degree in Sports Administration in 2004 before rising to the position of head coach later that year.

"I've had a vision of coaching outside the SWAC," said Young. "UNO has available what I need to complete that vision from great facilities to a great education."

"I believe competing in Division III at UNO will afford me the opportunity to compete for national championships. The school has the heritage, recent success and location that will assist in getting quality student-athletes."

This year, UNO will compete as a Division I Independent in all sports as part of a multi-year transition to Division III status.

Young has already began working to finalize a roster that currently includes returning starters Cassidy Asebroek and Edina Dobi at setter and outside hitter, respectively.

The 2009 Privateer volleyball team posted a 20-13 overall mark while winning the Sun Belt Conference West Division title under then-head coach Jozsef Forman.

The new head coach will make her UNO debut against a familiar foe from her days in the SWAC as the Privateers open the 2010 campaign at Jackson State on Aug. 27.

By: Jason Plotkin
Director of Athletic Media Relations
University of New Orleans
Office: (504) 280-6284
On Twitter @UNOPrivateers

Digital Harbor's Justin Jackson selects Morgan State

Justin Jackson was all set to stay in Baltimore for college until a Division II program in Ohio extended a late scholarship offer earlier this month. Digital Harbor’s (formerly known as Southern-Baltimore), star point guard planned on visiting the Urbana University campus before deciding between the Blue Knights and a preferred walk-on opportunity at Morgan State. But ultimately, Jackson never took the trip to Ohio.

“I was just talking to my family and they said that Morgan looks like a good choice because they’ve got the [financial aid] situation straight, so it’s good,” Jackson said. “… [The Morgan coaches] basically thought I was going there from Jump Street, so they were just happy to have me on the board. I talked to my assistant coach and I’ll be playing there my first year.”

Jackson’s been a well-known name throughout the city basketball scene for the past several years, culminating with the 2008-09 high school season when he and older brother George Jackson guided the Rams to the Class 1A state championship. Jackson looked the part of a Division I prospect, but things didn’t go quite as planned after the initial buzz about his game.

Digital Harbor's Justin Jackson is #15 (dark blue) in this video clip.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grambling State locals honored for contributions

The Monroe-Ouachita Chapter of the Grambling State University National Alumni Association will host its eighth annual Evening with the GSU Athletic Department tonight at the Monroe Civic Center. Athletics Director Lin Dawson and head football coach Rod Broadway are expected to be on hand to discuss the upcoming season, and a selection of local alumni will be honored for their contributions to GSU: James "Shack" Harris, Delles Howell, Lee Fobbs.

The event begins at 6 p.m. in the Fort Miro Room, with a silent auction beginning at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $10. Door prizes will be given away, including Bayou Classic tickets and GSU football season tickets. Ezzard Burton, a former president of the Monroe-Ouachita Chapter, said the event drew a crowd of about 180 last year and raised about $4,000 for GSU athletics. He hopes for a turnout of over 200 this year.


Prairie View looking for feel-good sequel

As feel-good football stories go, Prairie View’s tale is tough to top. Most of us know about the rough times — that 80-game losing streak in the early ’90s, an under-funded program for decades, no Southwestern Athletic Conference titles since the Lyndon Johnson administration.

Then, at long last, there was last season. Capping an undefeated record in SWAC play, the Panthers outlasted Alabama A&M in the conference championship game at Legion Field, setting off a celebration that took even the players by surprise. “We had fans coming on the field, and they were crying,” Prairie View quarterback K.J. Black said. “People in their 50s and 60s — they were crying because it had been so long since they’d seen something like that.” It had been quite a ride.

Since coach Henry Frazier III took over in 2004, the Panthers had been building toward last season. From the moment players reported to preseason camp, they had one goal: Win the SWAC. All season long, they carried around a WWE-style championship belt, claiming that if other teams wanted the title, they had to take it from Prairie View.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prairie View A&M unveils plans for new football stadium

A great day for Prairie View: School unveils $60 million plan that includes new football stadium

When Henry Frazier III interviewed for the Prairie View A&M coaching job in 2003, he was given an artist’s rendering of the school’s vision for a football stadium. Seven years later, the picture — and the future landscape of Prairie View A&M athletics — has changed. School officials unveiled an ambitious $60 million first phase Friday to build a football stadium and an athletic department center and upgrade its basketball facility.

“I’ve always said this was the last piece of the puzzle,” Frazier said. “This was one of the selling points when I took the job. It’s been talked about since I arrived on campus. I’m excited to see it start to take shape.”

The football stadium, which would be built south of Blackshear Stadium, is expected to cost about $34 million. The stadium would have a seating capacity of 15,000 and be expandable to 30,000, a FieldTurf playing surface, club seating, 12 luxury suites and enhanced tailgating and parking areas. The proposed athletic department center would be built on the stadium’s north side.

The 74,000-square foot facility would include a weight room, lockers and dressing rooms, an academic enhancement and tutoring area, team position meeting rooms, administrative offices and a memorabilia area featuring the Prairie View Sports Hall of Fame. (READ MORE, CLICK TITLE ABOVE)
Prairie View A&M Sports Complex/Football Stadium Presentation

Solomon: Stadium plans show Prairie View's progress | College ...

It wasn't that long ago that Prairie View A&M debated whether to continue providing socks and jockstraps for its football players. Now, the school has had budget discussions about championship rings and plans to build a football stadium and athletic facilities that should meet the need of its athletes for decades.

Friday, school officials shared a new athletic facilities vision with alumni at their annual convention in New Orleans. Though the highlight is a 15,000-seat (expandable to 30,000) football stadium, which would replace Blackshear Stadium, where the Panthers have played home games since 1960, that is only a small part of the three-phase plan.

That first phase comes with a $60 million price tag. In all, every athletic program at the university as well as the student body would benefit from the project, which includes the building of an athletic and academic center, a renovated basketball arena, new baseball and softball stadiums, a student recreation center with intramural fields, a tennis complex and additions to the school's Kinesiology and Health Sciences Department.


FAMU women's hoops team eager to earn first banner

Rattlers already out on floor preparing for 2010-11 season

As a handful of players from the Florida A&M women's basketball team went through their unsupervised offseason drills inside the Lawson Center, the bare rafters overhead were very obvious. There isn't a single banner hanging yet in the gym that was opened last fall. The FAMU women's basketball team wants to be the first to get one. The process begins when the season does in November.

But the players seemingly are willing to put in the necessary time on the floor and go through early morning workouts in an effort to reach their goal. "It starts right now," said junior forward Antonia Bennett. "I think we really have the talent this year to win. As long as we have the right attitude and the work ethic we can pull it off. We just have to put all the pieces together." Of course, coach LeDawn Gibson will be the one deciding how that is done. But for now the players are making do on their own as they prepare to play at Gibson's up-tempo pace.


Norfolk State Track Gets a $550,000 Makeover

NORFOLK, VA - NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State University, in conjunction with Beynon Sports Surfaces, recently completed a $550,000 renovation and resurfacing of the track at William “Dick” Price Stadium on the NSU campus.

The resurfacing included installation of a BSS 2000 track, a class I International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) surface which is used at many of the top tracks in the world. The BSS 2000 surface is also used at such top facilities as the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, which hosted the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and the 2008 United States Olympic Trials. New shot put and discus throwing areas were also installed at the East and West ends of the track adjacent to the stadium.

“Having the BSS 2000 surface installed shows the University’s commitment to track and field and its facilities,” said Kenneth Giles, NSU’s director of track and field programs. “We expect to host world-class meets on a world-class surface on a regular basis, in addition to providing our athletes with a top-notch track on which to train.”


First Port City Classic boasts new title sponsor

Grambling, LA - Louisiana Tech Sports Properties announced yesterday that Community Trust Bank is the title sponsor of the inaugural Port City Classic which will be played Sept. 4 at 6:00 p.m., at Independence Stadium in the first ever match-up between Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech University.

Mason Ellenberger, general manager for LA Tech Sports Properties, said that CTB is expanding their support of both Louisiana Tech and Grambling State with this commitment. This will be the first time the two schools will face each other in Tech's 108-year history of intercollegiate football.

"Community Trust Bank is honored to be the title sponsor of this historic matchup between Louisiana Tech and Grambling State," said Lance Hall, Regional President of CTB. "These great Universities play such a vital role in Lincoln Parish and in the state of Louisiana, and CTB is excited for the opportunity to strengthen these partnerships."

Ellenberger stressed that more key sponsorship opportunities still exist for the game, including VIP corporate hospitality. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, interested parties should call Ellenberger at 318-257-5331 (x2000).

The contest will serve as the season opener for both teams as LA Tech opens the Sonny Dykes era while Grambling State and Rod Broadway begin pursuit of a SWAC title run.

"I am really looking forward to playing Grambling for the first time in school history," said Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "Shreveport is a great place to host the game. The Shreveport-Bossier City community's support is critical to our success, and I can't wait to play in such a great facility as Independence Stadium."

Ironically, Dykes will be making his head coaching debut at the same facility that his father Spike made his head coaching debut.

Tickets for the contest are on sale and can be purchased by calling the Grambling State Ticket Office at 318-274-2625, Monday – Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm.

Tennessee State Tigers sport new look, attitude

Tennessee State Tigers Coach Rod Reed touts logo changes

A new look for helmets, names on uniforms, and more oversight on discipline are some of the changes new football Coach Rod Reed has put in place at Tennessee State. Reed revealed the helmet changes Monday at OVC Media Days. The Tigers were picked to finish fifth by the league's coaches and sports information directors. The new helmets will be white with a similar TSU logo on the sides to those the Tigers had on the blue helmets they've worn since the 1990s. But the logo will now be blue, outlined in red. There also will no longer be a stripe down the middle of the helmets.

Those helmets, however, won't be worn in the first game. TSU will have a throwback helmet look for the John Merritt Classic Sept. 4 against Alabama A&M. Those will be white with a large red T and smaller blue S and U, like those worn in the 1960s and '70s when Merritt was the coach.

"The plan is to wear those helmets that one game unless we score 50 points and get to feeling good about it and then we'll stay with the throwbacks the whole year," Reed said. "We just thought we would do that in commemoration of John Merritt. When my father (Robert) played here (1961-64) that's what they had on the helmets so I thought it'd be nice to throw out there."


Texas Southern Tigers aim for Labor Day Classic

DSU's Murray Wins Bronze at World Junior Championships

DOVER, DE- Delaware State University track & field standout Leslie Murray has earned world recognition this summer. The All-American Murray, running for his native U.S. Virgin Islands, claimed the bronze medal with his third place finish in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada last weekend, the first medal for his country in the history of the event.

Murray posted a time of 50.22 seconds in the race, trailing only gold medal winner Jehue Gordon of Trinidad & Tobago (49.30) and runner-up Takatoshi Abe of Japan (49.46). Murray, who is entering his junior year at Delaware State, helped lead the Hornets to the 2010 MEAC indoor championship in the 1600-meter relay this past season.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Commissioner tries to calm Legacy controversy

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Dr. Dennis E. Thomas refuses to answer the Press questions regarding the ESPN Legacy Bowl proposal. Thomas instead took a swipe at Bloggers and fans who have expressed strong opposition to dropping the conference automatic berth to the Football Championship Subdivision (1-AA) Playoffs.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. --Amid the storm of controversy surrounding the proposed Legacy Bowl, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference commissioner Dennis Thomas has attempted to maintain a calm front. Aside from comments made in June confirming the possibility of ESPN reviving the Heritage Bowl under a new aforementioned moniker with the MEAC and Southwestern Athletic Conference facing each other starting Dec. 17, 2011, the former South Carolina State head football coach has kept talk about the contest mostly under wraps.

"We are doing due diligence about the possibility and no decision has been made," Thomas said on Monday. "I can't make any comments until or if the deal is done. And then I can make some accurate comments about what is."

Thomas said he was hopeful a final decision on whether to participate in the game, which would require the MEAC to drop its automatic qualifying berth into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, would take place "sometime in the fall." At that point, the final decision would be left in the hands of the conference's school presidents and chancellors.


Former FAMU coach Durant finds valor in Dawson enshrinement

Former FAMU coach Durant finds valor in Dawson enshrinement

When Joe Durant found out that budget cuts would reduce travel expense for the Florida A&M baseball team, he called on Andre Dawson. Dawson helped to arrange a card show in the old Gaither Gym that raised more than $11,000 for the Rattlers about 10 years ago. Dawson had been there several other times to help Durant, a former teammate when both men played at FAMU during the 1970s.

On Sunday, Durant was in Cooperstown reciprocating as Dawson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Durant could have made an excuse for not being there. He has a very good one. He was diagnosed with the lymphoma form of cancer in February, just over two years after he'd found out that the physical changes he was experiencing was the result of having prostate cancer. The meeting between Dawson and Durant at a pre-induction reception was an emotional one, Durant said. They still found a way to laugh.

Andre Dawson joins an elite group »

After eight years of waiting, Andre Dawson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, becoming the third Florida A&M athlete to be enshrined in a professional sports HOF. Dawson, just one of three players to hit more than 400 home runs, showed his prowess early in his career when he came to FAMU from Miami as a teenager. He joined a Rattlers team that was one of the winningest HBCU baseball teams during the early 1970s.

On Sunday, President James Ammons led a small contingent from FAMU that also included three of Dawson's former teammates. His induction is the second of a former FAMU athlete in the last two years, as he joined Bob Hayes in the NFL and former tennis star Althea Gibson.


Fitzgerald hopes to fit baseball into his schedule

Winston-Salem State University Interim Head Baseball Coach Kevin Ritsche.

Dominique Fitzgerald chuckled when asked if he might be the best baseball player at Winston-Salem State. Fitzgerald is a rising junior wide receiver on the WSSU football team. But he's also very interested in playing baseball next spring, when the Rams will field a team for the first time since 1973. "I've already talked to Coach (Kevin) Ritsche, so we'll just have to see what happens," Fitzgerald said in a telephone interview.

Ritsche, named the interim coach of the fledging baseball program last week, is trying to find players for a team that will play in the CIAA next spring. He'll have to do that without the benefit of a large recruiting budget, so any talent he can find that's already on campus can only help.

Fitzgerald, who played football and baseball at George Washington High School in Danville, Va., is playing summer baseball with the Virginia Marlins, a traveling team of college players based in Danville. He's plays the outfield, and he also pitched some in high school.


Albany State Hoops stars set to duel in 2nd Annual Legends Game

Albany basketball stars from the past and present will hit the court Saturday for the 2nd annual Legends Game.

ALBANY, GA — Get ready for some more old school versus new school. The 2nd annual Albany Legends game takes place Saturday night at Albany State University, featuring an “old school” team — area basketball stars who played before 2000 — against a “new school” team of players who played since 2000. A relatively new tradition, the game gives area hoops fans a chance to not only see star players from Albany’s past, but learn from their life experiences.

“We want everybody to come out,” said Chris Cameron, the Albany State men’s basketball coach and member of the old school team. “The mission of the game is to inspire, to entertain and to educate the community. And (another goal is) to recognize the hoopers from Albany that helped establish Albany as a basketball hotbed in the south.”

Looking Ahead
WHO: Basketball stars from Albany’s past and present.
WHAT: 2nd annual Albany Legends Game.
WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Albany State University’s HPER Gym.
COST: $3 general admission, $1 for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Andre Dawson's Hall of Fame Speech

Andre Dawson 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Speech and Transcript.

"So, today, I want to start by thanking Paul Como, my coach at Southwest Miami Senior High School, who moved me from the infield to the outfield, and Coach Costa Kittles, who gave me a chance at Florida A & M University as a walk-on when no other college would look at me because of a knee injury."

BUD SELIG: "Andre Nolan Dawson. The 21 Hawk. Montreal, National League, 1976 to 1986. Chicago Cubs, 1987 to 1992. Boston Red Sox, 1993 to 1994. Florida, National League, 1995-1996.

A powerful run producer, whose poise, work ethic and unsurpassed determination made him a complete player and a leader by example. Totaled 438 home runs and 2774 hits while stealing 314 bases in 21 seasons. Earned eight Gold Glove Awards, made eight All-Star teams. Was named 1977 Rookie of the Year. Revitalized by his arrival in Chicago. Won 1987 National League MVP Award with the Cubs. Leading league in home runs 49, runs batted in 137. Twice lead National League in total bases." Congratulations, Andre.

ANDRE DAWSON: Thank you, Commissioner Selig. Congratulations to my fellow inductees, Jon Miller, Bill Madden, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog. It's an honor to be here with you both, though I'm surprised that they let this manager and this umpire sit so close together today. It is both humbling and overwhelming to see the men sitting up here on this stage, to hear their names called before mine. Thank you, gentlemen, for welcoming this rookie to your team. (Applause)

ANDRE DAWSON: All I ever wanted growing up was to be like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and now I get to shake their hands and be treated as a friend. It's an honor beyond words. We've got a lot of Cubs in this group. Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins. These guys had to go through a lot to fight their way here, more than you will probably ever know. I admire you all a lot and I thank you for paving the way. Ryne Sandberg, who was a teammate of mine for six years and I didn't even know the man could speak until I saw him up here five years ago. My kind of player, never whined, never complained. Showed up every day, left it all on the field.



Andre Dawson's Hall of Fame induction speech hits emotional high ...

Northern's return good for Prairie View A&M Panthers

Prairie View A&M University coach Henry Frazier III said he wanted to see his defensive coordinator, Heishma Northern, have a shot to become the Southern University head coach after the school fired Pete Richardson in December.

Northern, a Baton Rouge native and former SU safety, indeed had a chance — he interviewed for the job and was one of the three lead candidates identified by athletic director Greg LaFleur — but SU settled on Stump Mitchell instead. Which, Frazier said, was good for him.

“I would like to go on record and publicly thank Southern University for not hiring him. It was good news for us,” Frazier said with a laugh Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala., site of the Southwestern Athletic Conference media day. “Really, he wanted to be there, and I want the best for coach. But he’s definitely a very good football coach. Extremely smart, intelligent and well-prepared.” Frazier said he believes Northern, now in his sixth year at PV, is prepared to take over his own program.


Insight from the SWAC’s new 'Dean'

He looked around this small meeting room in Birmingham, Ala., last week, and he saw new faces. Lots of new faces. Times have changed in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Everywhere Anthony Jones turned, he saw proof of that. He’s now in his ninth year as the football coach at Alabama A&M. When he made his first appearance at a SWAC football media day, way back in 2002, Doug Williams was still at Grambling. He’s long gone. Back then, Robert Hughes was still at Jackson State. He’s gone, too.

And every single year, Jones could count on seeing Pete Richardson from Southern. Now, Richardson is gone, too. For so long, Richardson was the Dean of the SWAC, with five titles and 17 years. Now, the dean’s title falls to Jones. Through eight seasons at A&M, he’s made four trips to the SWAC Championship Game, winning it all in 2006. He has averaged eight wins per year. And even in down seasons, opponents knew that when they played the Bulldogs, they were in for a long afternoon.


14-year-old college student to speak at scholarship fundraiser

Stephen Stafford II, in front of MLK statue on Morehouse College campus. The triple-major (math, computer science and pre-med) child prodigy will receive his college degrees in 2012, and will go on to Morehouse School of Medicine. Georgia law requires a student to be 16 to graduate high school, so he will be getting his high school diploma the same year he receives his college degrees. Stephen is from Lithonia, Georgia and was home schooled by his mother, Michelle Brown-Stafford (SEE Web Link Below).

Scholars of Minnesota-COPE Project is holding its Fifth Annual Scholarship Program Fundraiser/Gala on Sunday, August 15, 2010, from 4 to 8:30 pm at the Airport Hilton Hotel/Bloomington, Minnesota. This year’s guest speaker for the evening will be scholar/child prodigy Stephen Stafford II, a 14-year-old student currently attending Morehouse College.

According to Stafford’s biographical statement, “…Whe Stephen’s parents enrolled him in Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth, that Stephen soared into advanced mathematics and began mastering… geometry at age seven and algebra two years later.

“Soon after, Stephen was then allowed to audit a course at Morehouse College once his talents outpaced his mother’s ability to teach him. There Stephen scored the highest averages in both his college honors algebra and pre-calculus at the age of 11 and was honored by the college’s mathematics department.

“Stephen uses his gifts in mathematics and computer science to uplift other students. Stephen tutors students in K-12 schools as well as students twice his age enrolled at Morehouse in both subjects. He also lends his programming talents to projects on campus while offering technical assistance in the college’s computer lab.

“In addition, Stephen speaks to youth in schools, churches and community organizations in hopes that they will choose education as a means to better their lives. Stephen has even contributed his talents and notoriety to scholarship committees for the purpose of making education available to more youth.”

The COPE Project mentors community youth, provides scholarships, and acknowledges outstanding students in the metropolitan areas.



13 Year Old Donates Life Savings to S.C. State University

Orangeburg, SC -- A 13-year-old girl gave her life savings to South Carolina State University in hopes that more students could receive an education.

From many angles, Katarina Judge is like any other kid enjoying summer break. She swims, plays tennis, and helps to look after her younger brother and sister.

"I am still a 13-year-old; I still do 13-year-old things. I like Justin Bieber a lot," she said. She is also making moves to help others. She donated $585, her entire life savings, to South Carolina State University for scholarships.

"If you don't have an education, you can't get a job, and if you can't get a job, you're not going to be successful," she said.

Her father, Hardeep Judge, is the tennis coach at the school.

"It didn't surprise me, because Katarina has always done stuff like that, even when she was a small child. If she got too many Christmas presents, she would give some away," he said.


First-time head coach Stump Mitchell, Karl Morgan taking over at SWAC schools

Mississippi Valley State University coach Karl Morgan has one of the more difficult task in the SWAC in rebuilding the Delta Devils football program.

BIRMINGHAM, AL -- It's always been someone else's canvas, someone else's paint and brushes. It's belonged to Mike Holmgren and Jim Zorn and Terry Bowden. It's been Terry Donahue and Gene Stallings and Bobby Ross with the canvas. It's different now, going from assistant coach to head coach, after going from player to assistant coach. You're the artist. It's your canvas.

"The biggest thing," Stump Mitchell said, "you have to take a look at the picture and see what color you need to use, what you want to draw." "You've got control," Karl Morgan said. "I'm not a control freak, but whatever happens, good, bad or indifferent, you'll have a bigger part of it."

Mitchell and Morgan are the two new head coaches in the Southwest Athletic Conference, which held its annual media day Tuesday morning. Mitchell, an assistant coach in the National Football League for the past 11 years, is the new coach at Southern University. Morgan, a former captain of the UCLA defense, takes over at Mississippi Valley State. They bring to the SWAC an amazing stat that's likely not surpassed in any league. Half of the 10 SWAC head coaches are former NFL players.


Talking about 'The Hawk'

Andre Dawson’s friends and colleagues talked about “The Hawk” on his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mel Didier (longtime scout and player development person): “I first saw Andre at Florida A&M when I came out to see some other players. When I saw him hit the ball, and I saw the way the ball bounced when he hit it and how it took off, I said to myself, ‘I have another Hank Aaron here.’ At that time, I ran the draft for the Montreal Expos. And for some reason I let him fall to the 11th round of the draft and still got him. I knew he’d be a great player, but I didn’t know at that time he was also going to be a great man.”

Dallas Green (Cubs general manager 1982-1987: “I was the happiest guy in the world when Andre and his agent Dick Moss came to me with that blank contract to sign for 1987. I was embarrassed that I didn’t have more money to give him, but I was thrilled to death that he wanted to play for the Chicago Cubs. It was a great day for the Chicago Cubs and their fans when Andre Dawson made his decision to play for less money than he deserved that season.”


Former FAMU teammates recall great achievements of Dawson