Monday, July 31, 2017

New Offense and Attitude Has Morehouse Football Excited About 2017 Season

ATLANTA, Georgia -- When the Morehouse football team hits the practice field Aug. 4 for the start of fall practice, things won’t look like they did at the end of the 2016 season.

With a new assistant coach, a new offense and a different kind of spirit around the football program, the season is looking to be a promising one, despite the Maroon Tigers being picked to finish in fifth-place in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s East Division, said Morehouse’s head football coach Rich Freeman.

“It definitely motivates me because I don’t see fifth-place talent when I look around our locker room,” Freeman said. “And I definitely don’t see fifth-place coaching when I see the experience on our staff; and I don’t see fifth-place scholarship resources as our institution invests in grant-in-aid so we can go out and bring in good players.

“We don’t have everything we need, but we have what we need to be a lot better than fifth-place,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that happening.”

Last season, the Maroon Tigers finished 3-7, largely because of an offense that sputtered despite having lots of talent, a defensive secondary that gave up way too many big plays, and inconsistent play on special teams. All of those issues have been addressed during the offseason.

Five Maroon Tigers were chosen for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s preseason All-Conference team announced in July – linebacker David Smith, tight end Ryan Edwards and kick returner Ricci Nuckles made the first team, while defensive linemen Antonio Johnson and Voris Bryant were named to the second team.

Freeman’s staff recruited a new kicker to help the special teams play, while added emphasis in recruiting and coaching is being put on shoring up the secondary, he said. That will help what is already one of the SIAC’s top overall defenses.

The biggest change has been the hiring of Harry Williams as the team’s new offensive coordinator. Williams, who was at Langston University last season, brings a spread offense that scored nearly 41 points a game and helped Langston lead their conference in scoring last season.

Gone is an offense heavy on reads and intricate blocking schemes. Now, the Morehouse offense will be one that is more aggressive and will spread the ball all over the field.

“With Coach Williams, he’s brought in a bunch of new looks and he kind of reinvented the spread look, and interspersed some power into it,” said quarterback Kivon Taylor. “So, it’s a new look. The conference hasn’t seen this look. Now, we have an offense designed around our strengths.”

It’s an offensive scheme that has ignited a sense of enthusiasm in the entire team, Freeman said.

“We had an exciting spring practice,” Freeman said. “Not just reinvigorating our offense, but our entire football team. We needed success and a lot better tone. We’ve gotten that tone, in a football perspective, back during that 15 days of spring practice and I’m excited.”

Edwards said this is also an important season for the Morehouse seniors. They are looking to show the entire Morehouse community – students, alumni, faculty and staff – that football at Morehouse is in great shape.

“We have a lot of pride in Morehouse,” he said. “We know that Morehouse is not the biggest football or athletic school, but with this new offense and the type of defense we have, we’re looking to make some noise in our conference and looking for different types of people to come to the games. That’s what it’s about – fans and support – so we’re going to give it to them.”

The Maroon Tigers open the season on Sept. 2 at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and then host Lane College on Sept. 9.

For more about Morehouse football, go to


Claflin University Athletics Welcomes Two New Head Coaches

 Revonda Whitely
Head Coach Women's Basketball
ORANGEBURG, South Carolina -- The Claflin University athletics department announces the hiring of Revonda Whitely and Mary Rotimi as the head women's basketball coach and head volleyball coach, respectively.
Whitely's appointment was effective July 24 while Rotimi's appointment was effective July 31. 

Revonda Whitley, WBB Coach
Whitley joins the Lady Panthers staff after serving 13 years as the associate head coach at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), an NCAA Division I program.
"We are pleased to have someone of Whitley's caliber join our staff," Dr. Jerome Fitch said. The athletic director added: "Her length of service and experience on the Division I level was a major consideration in her selection and I'm confident that she has the capability to lead the Lady Panther program to sustained success in the SIAC."
Whitley is no stranger to the state of South Carolina, having played collegiately at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.  She was a four-year standout for the Eagles women's basketball program from 1990 to 1994, ending a stellar career, with over 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 140 steals.
"I'm excited to return to the area where it all started for me," Whitley said.  "I began volunteering with then, Head Varsity Girls Coach, Tammy Shadd at Eau Claire High School and my passion to develop young student-athletes grew from there."
"To be chosen as the head women's basketball coach at Claflin is an absolute honor and privilege.  I say this because of the academic prestige of the institution as well as the vision that President (Henry) Tisdale has for moving the institution forward.  I felt immediately that Claflin was the right fit for me."
Whitley began her collegiate coaching career at Elizabeth City State in 2001, just an hour away from where she grew up in Pantego, N.C. During her tenure at Elizabeth City State, she served as the Head Volleyball Coach for two seasons (2003-04), while also serving as an adjunct professor in the Physical Education Department (2002-04).
Her coaching resume includes stints with the Columbia Warriors men's semi-professional basketball team (1998), The Timmerman School (1999) and she was also the head junior varsity coach at Eau Claire High School (2000), all in Columbia, S.C.
She graduated from Winthrop with a degree in psychology and earned a master's degree in human performance and sport studies (sport psychology) from the University of Tennessee in 1997.

Rotimi rejoins the coaching ranks after serving as the Program Director with the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia the past three years. She succeeds Ashley Jordan who was named volleyball coach in March, but was unable to remain in the position due to personal reasons.
Mary Rotimi
Head Coach Volleyball 

"We are pleased to have Coach Rotimi join our staff," Dr. Jerome Fitch said. The athletic director added: "She has extensive experience in the sport of volleyball at various levels and her experience will help the Claflin volleyball team continue its winning tradition."
Prior to her stint with the Boys and Girls Club, Rotimi spent one season (2013-14) as the assistant athletic director of recreation and head volleyball coach at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa. In addition she was the assistant women's basketball coach at Wilmington University (2012-2014) in New Castle, Del. and the head women's volleyball coach at Manor College (2012-2013).
Rotimi began her coaching career at Delaware County Community College where she served as the head women's basketball coach and head women's volleyball coach for two seasons (2008-2010).
"It feels good to be back in coaching, it's definitely something I've been looking to do," Rotimi said.  "Being chosen as the head coach volleyball at Claflin University is a great opportunity. Knowing that it is a winning program, I see nothing but great things for this program. I want to thank everyone at Claflin University for seeing me as a good fit to help lead the program."
Rotimi was a standout basketball player at Lincoln University (Pa).  She finished with the most career double-doubles in Lady Lion history (37).  Rotimi scored 921 points with 814 rebounds over four seasons (2003-2007).  During her career, she averaged 12.2 points and 10.8 rebounds.  In 1995 she was inducted in Lincoln University (Pa) Athletics Hall of Fame.
Romiti earned a degree in health science from Lincoln and a master's degree in public administration with a graduate certificate in sports management and athletics from West Chester in 2011. 


Finding Purpose: Former Hampton University Pirates Greg Scott

WINTON, North Carolina – No question, Greg Scott is home.

It’s not here in the Roanoke-Chowan area, but just across the Virginia state line in Southampton County; the town of Franklin, to be exact.

Actually, in some ways he never left.

Raised near Courtland, VA, Scott played football at Southampton High, then went on to star as a defensive end at Hampton University, leading the Pirates to the 1998 MEAC conference championship. In 2002, he was drafted by the NFL Washington Redskins (another near-Virginia connection). He later played for the Cincinnati Bengals before heading overseas to play with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe. He then closed out his five-and-a-half-year pro career in 2007 in the Arena Football League with the Grand Rapids Rampage.

When it was done he says he made some $3 million fulfilling his boyhood dream of making it in professional football.

Following football, Scott entered private business as an entrepreneur. Today, he is currently the founder and chairman of the board of a non-profit group that provides kids meals to at-risk youth and children who might not otherwise afford school meals. The group also teaches nutrition education and educates children on portion control to combat food insecurity, childhood obesity, and reduces health problems caused by poor diet. Currently they have more than 12,400 children in southeastern Virginia enrolled in their after-school feeding program and have served more than two-million meals and snacks since 2010.


Title IX investigation into FAMU women's hoops coach complete

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Florida A&M's Office of Equal Opportunity Programs last month ruled allegations that head women's basketball coach LeDawn Gibson bullied players based on sexual orientation were "unsubstantiated."

Allegations of bullying were originally brought to the attention of then-Deputy Athletic Director Elliot Charles, who on Feb. 3 forwarded an anonymous email to FAMU's director of equal opportunity programs.

The allegations included claims both Gibson and assistant coach LaTasha Ganus bullied, verbally abused and discriminated against the players who were dismissed from the team.

The findings of the investigation, dated June 30, said, "The same-sex allegation does not rise to the level of discriminatory behavior."

Added in the report, "It does not appear to be reasonable that a coach who has recruited and continues to recruit student-athletes who are openly homosexual would dismiss student-athletes because of same sex relationships when there is clear evidence that other, non-discriminatory factors impacted the dismissal decisions."


FAMU head coach Alex Wood: 'We like this team'

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Florida A&M’s fall football camp is underway, and third-year head coach Alex Wood likes the vibe of this year’s group.

He has some solid reasons to like what he sees heading into FAMU’s Aug. 26 season opener against Texas Southern.

For the first time in Wood’s tenure with the program, FAMU’s football team is sanction-free. The group had spring practice and a spring football game. There are no limits cutting into the time Wood and his coaches can spend with the Rattlers this fall.

And – even though Wood doesn’t put too much stock in preseason accolades – the MEAC’s coaches are noticing some improvement in the program. The Rattlers over the weekend were picked to finish sixth in the MEAC this season.

That’s better than the eighth-place predictions FAMU was saddled with in 2016 and 2015, though not quite where Wood would rank his team.


Dawson Odums looks for mental sharpness as Southern wears pads in the heat for the first time

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- The pop of pads was audible for the first time at Southern’s preseason camp, but that was not what coach Dawson Odums was looking for Monday.

With his players wearing shells — shoulder pads and helmets — for the first time, Odums was gauging how his players would handle the extra bit of discomfort.

“It’s concentration,” he said. “Once you add the shoulder pads, it creates another element. Our guys pushed through it.”

Odums paid close attention to the conditioning sprints his team ran at the end of practice, after roughly two hours spent practicing in muggy conditions.

The Jaguars broke into three groups to run sideline-to-sideline sprints. The lightest players needed to complete the sprint in 16 seconds, the medium group needed to complete it in 18 and the heavy group was given 20.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Albany State University Statement: NCAA Enforcement Investigation

ALBANY, Georgia -- Albany State University (ASU) has conducted concurrent internal and external reviews of the athletics program and has reported possible violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) legislation to the NCAA.

ASU President Art Dunning tasked all new institutional leaders to formally assess all functions of their units. Sherie C. Gordon, director of athletics, conducted an NCAA review, which revealed possible violations. The university subsequently retained Buckner Sports Law Firm, a sports and education law firm, as outside legal counsel to assist with a comprehensive investigation into the possible violations. The NCAA enforcement staff has agreed to conduct a collaborative investigation with ASU's outside counsel.

Dunning and the athletics leadership team recognize the importance of ensuring a culture of compliance. In concert with the NCAA investigation, ASU is working diligently to implement recommendations from the NCAA review to ensure the university builds a model and compliant Division II program. To protect the integrity of the ongoing collaborative inquiry, as well as to adhere to NCAA confidentiality rules, university officials will not comment further at this time.

About ASU…Albany State University, in Southwest Georgia, has been a catalyst for change in the region from its inception as the Albany Bible and Manual Training Institute to its designation as a university. Founded in 1903 to educate African-American youth, the university continues to fulfill its historic mission while also serving the educational needs of an increasingly diverse student population. A progressive institution, Albany State University seeks to foster the growth and development of the region, state and nation through teaching, research, creative expression and public service. Through its collaborative efforts, the university responds to the needs of all of its constituents and offers educational programs and service to improve the quality of life in Southwest Georgia. For more information, please visit Follow the university on Twitter and Facebook at @AlbanyStateUniv.


S.C. State Bulldog O-line mixes youth with veterans

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina -- South Carolina State head football coach Buddy Pough and his offensive staff have spoken highly of the Bulldogs’ potential on offense for the 2017 campaign, giving thumbs up on the team’s talent at quarterback, its stable of running backs, as well as the wide receivers corps. But for those groups to deliver, the all-important offensive line must be productive.

Pough and his staff will have to fill two positions along the interior line, that of All-MEAC tackle Javarius Leamon, one of eight Bulldogs on current NFL rosters, and Eric Dickerson, a one-time All-MEAC performer who missed the team’s first four games last year before settling in with a strong showing at guard down the stretch.

The absence of those two veterans looms big for the S.C. State interior line. But three starters from the group return, giving the Bulldogs some key experience as Pough’s team seeks to bounce back from a 5-6 campaign. Pough will have to rely on inexperience and youth to establish the depth along the offensive line that will be needed to compete against improved MEAC competition.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Norwood Leads FAMU Squad of Nine on All-MEAC List

NORFOLK, Virginia  – The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference released its 2017 Preseason All-Star Football Team here Friday, and nine (9) FAMU student-athletes were named among the selected performers announced at the annual Football Media Luncheon at the Marriott Waterside Hotel.
Heading the list of Rattler All-Stars was senior wide receiver Brandon Norwood of Atlanta, Georgia, who was named to the All-MEAC First Team. Norwood had a team-high 51 catches for 458 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.

Second Team selections included offensive linemen Osman Aguilera and Loubens Polinice, along with defensive backs Orlando McKinley and Terry Jefferson, who each had four pass interceptions in 2016.

Third Team selections from FAMU were quarterback Ryan Stanley, tight end Desmond Noird, offensive tackle Obinna Nwanko and defensive end Elijah Price.

2017 FAMU Preseason MEAC Football All-Stars

First Team Offense
WR* Brandon Norwood Sr. Florida A&M Atlanta, Ga.

Second Team Offense
OL Osman Aguilera Sr. Florida A&M Miami, Fla.
OL Loubens Polinice So. Florida A&M Palm Coast, Fla.

Second Team Defense
DB Orlando McKinley Jr. Florida A&M Atlanta, Ga.
DB Terry Jefferson So. Florida A&M Miami, Fla.

Third Team Offense
QB Ryan Stanley So. Florida A&M Pembroke Pines, Fla.
TE Desmond Noird Sr. Florida A&M Atlanta, Ga.
OL Obinna Nwanko So. Florida A&M Miramar, Fla.

Third Team Defense
DL* Elijah Price Sr. Florida A&M Jacksonville, Fla.

The nine players was the most from Florida A&M since early 2000s.


NCCU Eagles finally earn respect

NORFOLK, Virginia -- Well, N.C. Central can no longer consider themselves the Rodney Dangerfields of the MEAC.  Friday at MEAC Media Day, the Eagles finally got some respect.

At the league’s annual preseason gathering, N.C. Central was picked to win a fourth straight MEAC title. The coaches and sports information directors in the conference vote, and the Eagles finished one spot ahead of rival North Carolina A&T, who were picked to win it all in 2016. South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman, Hampton, Florida A&M, Norfolk State, Morgan State, Howard, Savannah State and Delaware State round out the predicted order of finish. It was the first time since Jerry Mack took over in 2014 N.C. Central was predicted to finish first in the conference. Mack’s first season, the coaches predicted the Eagles to finish No. 8. That season Mack’s squad won the share of the MEAC title.

N.C. Central, which finished a perfect 8-0 in the MEAC last season, will play each of the remaining four teams in the top five predicted order of finish. The Eagles didn’t play South Carolina State or Hampton last season, who replaced Morgan State and Savannah State on N.C. Central’s schedule.


Mike London is upbeat about his uphill battle to rebuild Howard University football

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As a RICHMOND police detective, Mike London escaped death only by chance. He was working an undercover beat, wearing a beard, long hair and an earring when he jumped into a van full of young men suspected of pulling off a series of robberies.

A juvenile put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed. That’s the only reason London is alive today.

In 2003, when London’s daughter, Ticynn, was 7, she was suffering from a rare genetic blood disorder called Fanconi anemia. Without a bone marrow transplant, she would almost certainly die, doctors said, adding there was one chance in 10,000 that Mike London’s bone marrow would match hers.

He beat the odds, donated bone marrow to her at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his daughter is now a senior at Old Dominion University.

London, a Hampton native and graduate of Bethel High School, has seven children and two grandchildren. He won a Football Championship Subdivision national title at Richmond in 2008. He’s mentored hundreds of football players who have become successful businessmen and fathers.

So don’t feel sorry for him that he didn’t quite cut it as head coach at the University of Virginia, where he was fired in 2015 after winning just 27 games in six seasons.

Wins and losses don’t mean nearly as much to London as life and death and family.


Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Sets Schedule for Leslie Frazier's Induction

JACKSON, Mississippi – Alcorn State University football legend Leslie Frazier will be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame (MSHOF) on Aug. 4-5, 2017.

The MSHOF weekend begins with the "Drawdown of Champions" Friday, Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. to honor Frazier as one of six new inductees. The party offers food from Jackson area restaurants, libations, a silent auction and a chance to win cash in the drawdown. Tickets are $50 each and additional numbers for the draw are $25 each. Dress is casual for the evening and is held at the museum.

Saturday, Aug. 5 from 10-11:30 a.m., the class of 2017 and other Hall of Famers will be back at the museum to sign autographs and meet fans. Regular museum prices of $5 for adults, $3.50 for students and kids 5 and under are free will apply.

The Induction Banquet, presented by Sanderson Farms and the Sanderson Farms Championship, begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Jackson Convention Complex and includes an open bar reception for the Inductees prior to the dinner at 7 p.m. Individual tickets are $125 each for the reception and banquet.

Frazier will be honored along with former Clarion-Ledger sports columnist Rick Cleveland, former Jackson State baseball coach/athletic director Bob Braddy, former Ole Miss women's basketball player Eugenia Conner, who was inducted posthumously, former Oklahoma and Southern Miss running back Marcus Dupree, and former Mississippi State baseball player Jay Powell, who coaches at Jackson Academy.

For more information on the MSHOF induction ceremony, contact executive director Bill Blackwell at 601-982-8264.

About Frazier
Frazier has excelled in athletics at every level starting early in high school earning nine letters at Stephen D. Lee in Columbus, three each in baseball, basketball and football.

Highly recruited, Frazier chose Alcorn and was an All-SWAC selection in baseball and in football under Hall of Fame coach Marino Casem. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears in 1981 where he teamed up with fellow Hall of Famers Walter Payton and Tyrone Keys to win Super Bowl XX.

His coaching career began at small Trinity International University and has been extremely successful including winning Super Bowl XLI as a coach for the Indianapolis Colts. Frazier served as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2010 to 2013 and currently works for the Buffalo Bills as the defensive coordinator.

Frazier at Alcorn
Frazier made an immediate impact as a freshman at Alcorn in 1978. Playing for Coach Casem, he intercepted six passes and wrapped-up 62 tackles to help the Braves finish with a winning record.

Frazier had a breakout season the next year as he picked off a school-record nine passes, a record that still stands. He was part of a defense that limited the opposition to just 108.7 yards per game and 10.7 points per outing. Frazier ended with 44 tackles and 26 pass break-ups. He helped lead the Braves to the 1979 SWAC Championship.

In his final season as a Brave in 1980, Frazier led the team in interceptions with a total of five and recorded 49 tackles. He also returned 14 punt returns and scored one for a touchdown.

Frazier ranks second in school history in interceptions with 20 which is also sixth in the SWAC record book.

Frazier's Postseason Football Accolades at Alcorn
• 1978 All-SWAC Honorable Mention
• 1979 All-SWAC First-Team
• 1979 NCAA All-America First-Team
• 1979 AFCA All-America First-Team
• 1979 NAIA All-District Team
• 1980 All-SWAC Second-Team
• 1980 NAIA All-District Team
• 1980 SBN All-Star Game Participant


Alcorn Braves Legend Donald Driver Inducted into Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin -- One of the most successful graduates in the history of Alcorn State University athletics, football standout Donald Driver was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame over the weekend at Lambeau Field.

Driver graduated from Alcorn in the spring of 1999 after playing three seasons with the Braves from 1996-98 as a wide receiver. Even as a three-year letterman, Driver ranks top-10 in school history in both receiving yards (1,933) and touchdown receptions (17).

Driver played for coach Cordell Jones his first two years and Johnny Thomas the last. The big-play threat hauled in an astounding 19.69 yards per catch over his career.

As a freshman, Driver recorded 12 catches for 249 yards and a touchdown. The following season, he reeled in 21 passes for 556 yards and six touchdowns. His breakout year came in 1998 where he caught a team-high 55 passes for 1,128 yards and scored 10 touchdowns in 11 games. He averaged 20.5 yards per catch and 5.0 catches per outing that season.

In addition to football, Driver was a part of the track & field squad at Alcorn. He was a five-time Athlete of the Year winner in conference between the two sports over six seasons total.

Upon graduation, Driver was selected as the 213th pick in the seventh round by the Packers of the 1999 NFL Draft. He spent 14 seasons with Green Bay and became the team's all-time leader in both receptions (743) and receiving yards (10,137). He also caught 61 career touchdowns.

• Four-time Pro Bowl selection (2002, 2006, 2007, 2009)
• Won Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers
• Tallied seven 1,000-yard receiving seasons
• Grabbed at least five touchdown passes in seven different seasons
• Averaged at least 10.0 yards per catch in 13 of his 14 seasons
• Played in 205 career games including 14 in the playoffs
• Set his career-high in receiving with 191 yards against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 12, 2006 which included an 82-yard touchdown
• When Brett Farve broke Dan Marino's all-time passing mark of 61,361 yards, it came on a seven-yard completion to Driver
• Scored the longest played in Green Bay's postseason history with a 90-yard touchdown catch against the New York Giants on Jan. 20, 2008

• Dancing with the Stars champion, season 14
• New York Times bestselling author for his official memoir, Driven, which included personal stories about his childhood and football career
• Olympic-Class high jumper with a personal-record of 2.30m
• Qualified for the 1996 Olympic Field Trials in the high jump


Fall in love with the process: A well-read Southern team reports to camp seeking the 'chance to become great'

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- The Southern football team’s offseason reading assignment was due Friday, when it reported for the start of preseason camp.

The task? Finish the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great” by Joshua Medcalf.

“The deal with this generation is they want things right now, and they don’t understand that it’s a process in becoming great,” coach Dawson Odums said. “The only way to become great is to fall in love with the process.”

Odums assigned the book to his entire program in the spring, from the coaching staff to the players at the bottom of the depth chart.

The summary, according to Odums: A man dreams of becoming a samurai archer, enrolls in a training school and looks for the quickest way to achieve that goal. He is told not to focus on the end result but instead to focus on accomplishing what seem to be the most minute tasks, like chopping wood to burn for heat and carrying water to the village.


Grambling to vacate 2011 SWAC title as part of sweeping NCAA probe

GRAMBLING, Louisiana -- Grambling State will vacate multiple wins across various sports, including the 2011 Southwestern Athletic Conference football championship, face two years of probation, a reduction of scholarships in two sports and pay a $5,000 financial penalty due to numerous compliance infractions between 2010-15.

GSU President Rick Gallot’s Response to the NCAA Decision

NCAA Grambling Infractions Decision

The NCAA issued a Notice of Allegations today after an inquiry alongside an internal investigation revealed during the five-year stretch that ineligible players were allowed to play in games, improper certification toward degrees for some student-athletes, three teams not meeting the single-year Annual Progress Rate requirement, improper benefits, athletes in 11 of the school’s 13 sports were not properly certified and athletes in six sports were permitted to practice, compete and receive expenses without meeting the required amateurism guidelines.

GSU self-detected and self-reported the violations to the NCAA, who categorized the school’s violations as Level II, or significant and intentional efforts to achieve an advantage over competitors. The NCAA started an inquiry in Grambling athletics in February 2016 after the university self-reported probable infractions in 2015.


Howard Bison Football: Philyaw Named MEAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Anthony Earns All-MEAC Honors

NORFOLK, Virginia – It's a new era for Howard football and it's starting with a bang as senior running back Anthony Philyaw was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Preseason Offensive Player of the Year on Friday. The high honor earned Philyaw a spot on the All-MEAC First Team, while sophomore wide receiver Kyle Anthony was placed on the All-MEAC Second Team.

Philyaw started 10 games for the Bison in 2016 and picked up postseason honors as an All-MEAC First Team selection. He had an outstanding season after rushing for 1,230 yards on 222 carries. The Los Angeles native averaged 123 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry while scoring a team-high nine touchdowns. He twice rushed for over 200 yards in a game, including the season finale in which he rushed for a school-record 281 yards on 36 carries and two touchdowns. Philyaw also caught 21 passes for 215 yards and has compiled almost 2,000 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns in two seasons.

Anthony made his presence known during his rookie campaign, starting all 11 games. He grabbed a team-high 40 passes for 535 yards and six touchdowns. The 2016 All-MEAC Third Team honoree averaged almost 14 yards per catch and had two games with multiple touchdowns.

The Bison will open the 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 2 at UNLV. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET in Sam Boyd Stadium.

by Candace Johnson, Assistant Director of Athletic Media Relations


Friday, July 28, 2017

With different perspective than most, Mike London likes what he has at Howard

NORFOLK, Virginia -- As a private school, Howard University is not required to reveal employee salaries. But regarding football coach Mike London, we know this: It’s less than the $300,000 he made last year as a Maryland assistant.

Kery Davis, the Bison’s athletic director, dropped that nugget during London’s introductory press conference Jan. 9. So, yes, London agreed to a pay cut in taking over a program that has had one winning season in the last 12 years.

But neither money nor prominence drives him. A man who once had a gun pointed at his head and donated bone marrow to save his daughter’s life can be expected to look at life differently than most.

“It’s a chance for longevity,” London said at the MEAC’s Media Day Friday morning. “My son (Mike Jr.) is on my staff, and I’m regionally close to this area, where I’m from. It’s a similar school to the other schools I’ve been at. I’ve been at educational institutions my whole career.

“It’s not as much to me about status and prestige. I’ve been fortunate to have been at a lot of good places. Howard is a place where we have an opportunity to build something.


FAMU football picked to finish 6th in MEAC

NORFOLK, Virginia -- The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference released its 2017 Preseason All-Star Football Team Friday, and nine FAMU players were named among the selected performers announced at the annual Football Media Luncheon at the Marriott Waterside Hotel.

A panel of conference head coaches and sports information directors, which selected the all-star teams, also weighed in on the 2017 MEAC title chase, picking defending champion North Carolina Central to repeat, followed by North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State, Bethune-Cookman and Hampton.

FAMU was picked to finish sixth, with Norfolk State, Morgan State, Howard, Savannah State and Delaware State trailing the Rattlers in that order.

Heading the list of Rattler All-Stars was senior wide receiver Brandon Norwood, who was named to the All-MEAC preseason first team.

The Atlanta native had a team-high 51 catches for 458 yards and four touchdowns last season.


Rare subpar season motivates South Carolina State in MEAC

NORFOLK, Virginia – South Carolina State has never had a losing MEAC record under coach Buddy Pough. Many teams would embrace last year’s 5-3 mark.

But, oh, do the Bulldogs seek a sweeter ending this year to Pough’s 16th season in Orangeburg.

“We have a tradition of winning championships,” he said, “and when we finish second or third, that’s not good enough for our program.”

South Carolina State is expected to contend for the MEAC title this season, but even Friday’s third-place prediction in the conference’s preseason poll likely serves as additional motivation for the Bulldogs, who have won six championships under Pough.

Defending champion North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T, last year’s runner-Cup and the 2015 conference champ, were picked first and second, respectively, in the preseason poll, which was voted on by the head coach and the sports information director at each of the 11 schools.


North Carolina Central Picked To Defend MEAC Championship

NORFOLK, Virginia -- North Carolina Central was picked to defend its MEAC Football Championship as the Eagles topped the league's annual preseason poll. Voting for the poll is conducted by the MEAC's 11 head coaches and football sports information directors.

The Eagles received 13 first-place votes to narrowly finish ahead of rival North Carolina A&T State, who finished with 10 first-place votes. South Carolina State was picked to finish third while Bethune-Cookman was picked fourth. Hampton was tabbed to finish fifth followed by Florida A&M, Norfolk State, Morgan State, Howard, Savannah State and Delaware State.

1. North Carolina Central (13)
2. North Carolina A&T State (5)
3. South Carolina State
4. Bethune-Cookman
5. Hampton (1)
6. Florida A&M
7. Norfolk State
8. Morgan State
9. Howard
10. Savnnah State
11. Delaware State (1)


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Stafford-Odom settles in at NCCU

DURHAM, North Carolina -- Doing your job virtually might work in some professions, but it’s not ideal for a basketball coach.

That’s exactly what new N.C. Central women’s basketball coach Trisha Stafford-Odom had to do for a while. Stafford-Odom was hired in May to replace former coach Vanessa Taylor. At the time, Stafford-Odom was living in California, where she served as the head coach at Concordia. She made a quick trip east last month, the first time she got a chance to sit down with her new players as their head coach.

But then she was back to the west coast, where she did most of her work over the phone or, thanks to modern technology, a Skype session with her team. After she was hired, Stafford-Odom hit the ground running. Her first order of business was putting together her staff. Already having potential staff members in mind, Stafford-Odom made a quick splash, hiring former N.C. State standout Tynesha Lewis first, then adding NCCU alum, and former coach, A.G. Hall. Stafford-Odom proved she was good at multi-tasking, hunting down recruits while finalizing her staff, all of this from California.


One proud papa: Dawson Odums looking forward to first Southern season with all of his own recruits

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Nothing about the Southern football team reporting for preseason camp is new to Dawson Odums.

About to start his fifth full season running the show for the Jaguars, the coach knows exactly what to expect.

Players report to the on-campus dorm, and the next day they start practice. At first, it’ll be mostly without pads, and workouts will get the players acclimated to being back on the field in the intense summer heat of Baton Rouge.

That's the plan when the Jaguars report at 11 a.m. Friday and start practice Saturday. No need to deviate from a plan that resulted in an 8-1 SWAC record the year before.

But this year is different — for Odums, at least.

This is the first season in which ...


Former Tech player enrolls at Grambling State

GRAMBLING, Louisiana -- With experience on defense an issue as the coaches look to add depth this preseason, Grambling State may have picked up a late, and local, addition that could factor into the linebacker unit.

Donald Freeman, a redshirt sophomore linebacker, transferred out of Louisiana Tech early this summer and was accepted to GSU Thursday.

The Baton Rouge native signed with Tech out of Scotlandville High School in 2015 after tearing his ACL during the second week of his senior season, and redshirted his freshman season in Ruston. Freeman played special teams in two games last year and recorded just three tackles for the Bulldogs.

Freeman, who was granted release from Louisiana Tech June 6, will be eligible to play this season.


Five burning questions for Southern, starting with the obvious: How does it replace Tillery and Quinn?

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- This is the biggest question facing Southern this season. It must find a way to replace production from its all-time leading rusher, Lenard Tillery, and its all-time leading receiver, Willie Quinn. Those two were a massive part of Southern’s success last season, accounting for nearly 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns from scrimmage. That is a lot of game changing ability to replace in one year, and there's simply no clear answer yet. But, looking back on it, who would’ve thought a former walk on and a 5-foot-5 receiver would’ve made such a big impression when they first walked on to campus?

2: Can the defense carry the load?

The Jaguars’ explosive offense often overshadowed their big-play defense last season. Southern intercepted 19 passes — led by Danny Johnson’s SWAC-best seven interceptions — and also recovered 13 fumbles. A strong finish by defensive end Aaron Tiller (nine sacks) helped Southern rack up 24 sacks as a team, as well. And, unlike the offense, all of the big-name players are returning for 2017. This may be the year when Southern’s hopes are pinned largely to how well its defense performs, especially in momentum-swinging categories it scored well in last season like turnovers and sacks.


JSU, Hughes excited about adding Deion Pope to already strong defense

JACKSON, Mississippi -- Jackson State is the latest Mississippi university to hit the practice field and open fall camp. The Tigers held their first of 29 preseason practices on Thursday.

Tony Hughes enters his second season with a strong defense that includes the intriguing addition of transfer defensive lineman Deion Pope. Coming out of Co-Lin, Pope was the top junior college defensive tackle in the country when he committed to Mississippi State.

After going through the Bulldogs offseason program, the Collins native decided to transfer to JSU. Hughes says his addition to an already impressive front four could take the Tigers defense to another level.

"Deion (Pope) is excited to be out here," Hughes said. "and we expect to see hopefully a dominant player that can transform our team from an average team to a great team. If it plays out, we got potential to be possibly one of the best defenses in the country."


5 takeaways from JSU's first fall practice

JACKSON, Mississippi -- The first practice of Jackson State's fall camp is in the books.

The Tigers took to the practice field in shorts and put in an energetic hour and 45 minutes of work despite temperatures that reached into the mid-90s.

"I thought we had a tremendous day," JSU coach Tony Hughes said. "The kids came out with a tremendous amount of energy and excitement, they executed well and they played hard. It was a great day to be out here coaching football."

Here are five takeaways from the first day of camp:

New year, new team

It's easy to see this is a different Tiger team. Guys were smiling, dancing and picking each other up throughout practice while music blared over the loudspeakers at the practice field.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

AT&T SportsNet set to broadcast TSU home football games

HOUSTON, Texas -- Texas Southern University Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Charles McClelland has announced that the TSU Athletics Program has reached a renewal agreement with AT&T SportsNet (formerly ROOT Sports Southwest) to have the Tigers five home football games broadcast on the network.

"We look forward to continuing our partnership with AT&T SportsNet as we look to further enhance the visibility of our football program on a local, regional, and national level," said McClelland. "AT&T SportsNet reaches the homes of millions and having the ability to showcase our program to such a large viewing audience has truly benefitted our program in a variety of ways including recruiting, brand recognition, and marketing. The continuation of this partnership is something that we're very excited about as we look forward to what should be a very entertaining season with Coach Haywood leading the program."

Texas Southern Fans can tune into all of the action on AT&T SportsNet this season as Butch Alsandor returns to the booth to handle play by play duties with sideline reporter Nick Strong providing the latest breaking in-game updates.

The first broadcast of the season is slated for Saturday, September 2nd at 8:00 pm as the Tigers host Prairie View A&M at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Texas Southern will have a quick turnaround for its next home outing as the Tigers will host Houston Baptist for Community Day on a Thursday (Sept. 7) at BBVA Compass Stadium.

TSU will host the defending SWAC East Champion Alcorn State Braves (Sept. 29) on AT&T SportsNet at BBVA Compass Stadium for its third home game of the season in a game that will be played on a Friday.

Texas Southern will host Alabama State for Homecoming (Oct. 14).The Tigers will wrap-up their 2017 home broadcast schedule versus Southern (Nov. 11) on Senior Day rounding out the list of the five TSU home football games slated to be showcased on the network.

About AT&T Sports Networks:
AT&T Sports Networks operates AT&T SportsNet and ROOT SPORTS® regional sports networks in Northwest, Pittsburgh, Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions. The four networks combined reach just over 13 million households across 22 states and own exclusive rights to produce and distribute live events from more than 25 teams and conferences. AT&T Sports Networks is a subsidiary of AT&T.


Angela Adams Suggs named President of Florida Sports Foundation

Angela Adams Suggs
Photo Courtesy: FAMU Athletics
TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- The Florida Sports Foundation welcomes Angela Adams Suggs as its new President and Senior Vice President of Sports Development for Enterprise Florida beginning August 7. She brings a wealth of experience and an excitement to lead the Tallahassee-based Florida Sports Foundation as it continues working to support Florida’s $57 billion sports industry.

Suggs comes to the Foundation from Florida A&M University where she has held various roles since 2009. Her most recent role has been the Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs and Senior Woman Administrator (SWA).

Suggs served as the lead role in FAMU’s Athletics Marketing and Promotions, Development, Athletics Communications, Licensing and Branding. She was the athletics department’s primary liaison with campus direct support organizations (DSO), neutral site games such as the Florida Blue Florida Classic, affinity/support groups, and community relations. She oversaw administration for the Men’s and Women’s Track & Field and Cross Country teams along with the Softball, Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams, and Spirit Groups.

While Suggs has led the athletic administration of those teams, the Rattlers Women’s Cross Country team has won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship (MEAC) for the last five years and the Softball team has been crowned MEAC Champs each of the last four years. The FAMU Men’s Tennis team won the 2017 conference championship. Additionally, the department received the Mary McLeod Bethune Women’s All Sports Award for two consecutive years.

A native of Tallahassee, her previous experience includes work in sales with Brown and Brown Insurance, Joe Robbie/Pro Player Stadium and the Marriott Corporation. Suggs holds a 1992 B.S.
Cdegree in Business Economics from Florida A&M and a M.S. degree from St. Thomas University.


Vanderbilt-Alabama A&M set for 3 PM kickoff on September 9

NORMAL, Alabama -- The Vanderbilt Commodores’ first three games of the 2017 football season now have kickoff times. The Commodores’ home opener against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs on September 9 will kick off at 3 PM CT and will be televised on the SEC Network Alternate channel, per Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt will be the second of three FBS opponents for Alabama A&M in the first three weeks of the season; the Bulldogs will open at UAB on September 2 — the Blazers’ first football game since 2014 — and will play at South Alabama on September 16. Last year, Alabama A&M went 4-7, 4-5 in the SWAC, but lost both of its games against FBS opponents by scores of 55-0 (MTSU and Auburn.)


Which newcomers could make an impact for GSU this season

GRAMBLING, Louisiana -- The week is here. Reigning Southwestern Athletic Conference and HBCU national champions Grambling State opens preseason camp this Sunday night on campus.

Fourth-year head coach Broderick Fobbs and coaching staff will have a little over a month to evaluate the Tigers and fill in the holes left by seven first-team All-SWAC seniors from last season’s 11-1 championship squad.

The defensive side of the ball, more specifically the defensive line, took the brunt of the departure of talent, and that’s where Fobbs will be paying extra close attention during fall practice.

Here are some newcomers or potential new starters to look for as GSU approaches the 2017 season opener at Tulane University Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.

On the defensive line, it’ll be tough to replace 2016 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year in Donovan McCray along with first-team All-Conference D-lineman Samuel Reese. Fobbs and defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Everett Todd will first look to Brandon Varner.


Kerrick Jackson introduced as Southern baseball coach, promises to emphasize 'Jaguar pride'

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- When Roman Banks set out to find a replacement for legendary Southern baseball coach Roger Cador two months ago, he put together a list of criteria for what the program needed. At the top of the athletic director's list was landing a coach who could revitalize the team and lead it out from under NCAA sanctions and back to national relevance.

On Tuesday, Banks said the man he thinks is the best fit is
Kerrick Jackson, a first-time head coach with no ties to Southern who was last an assistant coach at Missouri before serving as an agent for the past two years.

Jackson did not hold back at his debut news conference, saying his expectation for the program is winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship on a regular basis again.

“The one thing I think we can all look to, and I want our players to understand, is Jaguar pride,” Jackson said. “You’ll hear that over and over and over again. It’s very simple. I believe it’s personal responsibility and delivering excellence.”

Jackson's biggest hurdle is the lingering cloud of NCAA sanctions. Given unsatisfactory Academic Progress Rates, Southern remains under the NCAA's thumb, which means Jackson will not have a full practice schedule, nor full use of scholarships. The Jaguars will be ineligible for the postseason for at least his first season.


Southern athletic director Roman Banks ends first major coaching search with hiring of Kerrick Jackson

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- When Roman Banks officially presented Kerrick Jackson with his No. 45 Southern baseball jersey on Tuesday, it ushered in a new era for Southern baseball after the retirement of longtime coach Roger Cador two months ago.

But the announcement also ends an important period at Southern, putting to rest the first coaching search since Banks was named full-time athletic director last spring.

Before Tuesday, Banks never hired a coach for a major sport while serving as interim athletic director for two years or since being promoted to full-time director earlier this year.

The only hirings he made during that time were soccer coach Jeremy Fontenot last summer and promoting former assistant Morris Scott as Banks’ successor in men’s basketball.

“It’s like being out there on the basketball court trying to win a championship,” Banks said. “But right now, instead of talking about Xs and Os, I’m talking about the whole athletic department. … I try, as the athletic director, to give the alumni, the students, the baseball alumni — everybody — what it deserves and that’s a winning product.”


Sunday, July 23, 2017

GSU's Broderick Fobbs feels there is still room for improvement for Kincade

GRAMBLING, Louisiana -- Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade helped lead the Tigers to the HBCU national title and was the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, accounting for 35 total touchdowns last season.He was also just named the SWAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Despite the hype and past success, Grambling head coach Broderick Fobbs feels there is still room for improvement.

Broderick Fobbs said, "He did a really good job this offseason of really looking at himself on film, and he saw where he made a lot of mistakes. Really, truely what's scary is he left a lot on the table. So, there's a lot of growth there, but also we have to grow as a team as well because we have some new pieces to the puzzle, and we have to fit those pieces in well in order to be successful."

Kincade and the Tigers will open the season on September 2nd against Tulane in New Orleans.


Smith Named Media Preseason Player of the Year, TSU Tigers Picked Third

NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- The Tennessee State football team was picked to finish third in the Preseason Media Poll for the Ohio Valley Conference, while redshirt-senior wide receiver Patrick Smith was selected as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

The Tigers received 112 total points; including two first place votes, to finish behind defending champion Jacksonville State (141) and UT Martin (120). TSU is picked ahead of Eastern Illinois (96), Tennessee Tech (70), Murray State (62), Eastern Kentucky (61), Southeast Missouri (33) and Austin Peay (25).

Tennessee State finished 7-4, 4-3 in the OVC, placing fourth a season ago after being picked to finish sixth in the 2016 preseason media poll. Head coach Rod Reed enters his eighth season and will rely on 60 returners from last year's team, including seven offensive and eight defensive starters.

Smith was a first team All-OVC selection in 2016 after leading the team in receptions (61), yards (966) and touchdowns (13) while starting all 11 games at wide receiver. Smith’s touchdown mark also led all OVC receivers. The Memphis, Tenn. Product reeled in a pass in all eleven games, extending his streak to 21 games over the first two years of his career.

The Tigers will report for fall camp on July 26 in preparation for a trip to Atlanta, Ga. to face Georgia State on Aug. 31.

2017 Media OVC Preseason Football Predicted Order of Finish
1. Jacksonville State (13 first-place votes) - 141 points
2. UT Martin (1) - 120
3. Tennessee State (2) - 112
4. Eastern Illinois - 96
5. Tennessee Tech - 70
6. Murray State - 62
7. Eastern Kentucky - 61
8. Southeast Missouri - 33
9. Austin Peay - 25

2017 Media OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Patrick Smith (WR), Tennessee State
2017 Media OVC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Jackson (DE), Jacksonville State


Le'Coe Willingham Named Head Women's Basketball Coach at Fort Valley State

FORT VALLEY, Georgia -- Fort Valley State University's Director of Athletics Dr. Darryl Pope has announced that Le'Coe Willingham a 10-year WNBA veteran as the Lady Wildcats next Head Women's Basketball Coach on July 17, 2017.

"It is our pleasure to welcome Coach Le'Coe Willingham to the Fort Valley State family and Wildcat Country, said Pope, "She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will move our program in the right direction. She has the ability to motivate players on and off the court."

Willingham comes to Fort Valley State after serving as the women's assistant coach at Tennessee State University and served as TSU's individual post coach, defensive coordinator, and helped with recruiting. She was an integral part in Tennessee State capturing their first OVC Championship in over 20 years and earning an automatic bid to the 2014-2015 National Tournament. Under Le'Coe's leadership as defensive coordinator, the Tigers were the number one defensive team in the conference.

In 2014-2015, Willingham helped develop Chelsea Hudson, an undersized post player who achieve one of her best seasons averaging 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on her way to earning BOXTOROW All-American Honors, as well as All-OVC Second Team and All-Tournament Team. Willingham also helped four other Tigers earn All-OVC honors; Rachel Allen and Brianna Morrow earned the 2015 All-OVC Tournament Team honors. Imani Davis and Jayda Johnson earned the 2016 All-OVC Second Team.

A native of Augusta, Ga., and former Hephzibah High School standout, Willingham played her last season with the Atlanta Dream in 2013. Willingham was a three-time All-SEC selection out of Auburn, but went undrafted before being signed by Connecticut, where she spent the first four years of her career (2004-07). She then spent two seasons with the Phoenix Mercury (2008-09) and two in Seattle (2010-11).

Willingham's best seasons came in Phoenix, where she averaged 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 2008, and 10.0 points and 4.2 boards in 2009. She set a franchise record for field goal percentage in 2008, by making a league-leading 57.0 percent of her shots. She helped the Mercury to a WNBA championship in 2009 and also was a key reserve for the 2010 Seattle team that defeated Atlanta in the WNBA Finals.

Prior to her stint with the Dream, Willingham was a member of the Chicago Sky where she averaged 18.5 minutes per game – sixth highest on the team. She appeared in all but one game, averaging 3.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and one assist per game.

A standout athlete at Auburn, Willingham is the program's seventh all-time scorer and sixth all-time rebounder. She is among Auburn's top ten career leaders in starts, points, field goals made, field goal percentage, free-throws made, free-throws attempted and rebounds. While attending Hephzibah High School, she won the 1998 AAAA Georgia State Women's State High Jump Title.

At the conclusion of her professional career, Willingham returned to Auburn to obtain a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Counseling with an emphasis in Trauma.

Media Advisory: Fort Valley State University will host a news conference at a later date to introduce Coach Le'Co Willingham as its new woman's head basketball coach.

For questions or additional information, contact Director of Sports Information Willie K. Patterson, Jr. at 478-825-6437 (office) or


CIAA looking to increase Southwest Virginia presence

ROANOKE, Virginia -- Now that the CIAA has extended its football championship contract with Salem through 2019, talk has turned to a greater Southwest Virginia presence on CIAA rosters.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, based in Charlotte, held its football media day Thursday at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center, a few miles from Salem Stadium, the home of the CIAA’s Nov. 11 title game.

Winston-Salem State defeated Bowie State 43-33 in last year’s conference title game, which was moved when Salem was named the replacement location for Durham, North Carolina, in October 2016. That move was the result of the league moving its North Carolina-based championships in reaction to the state’s HB2 law.

“I thought it worked out really well,” said Kermit Blount, a past president of the CIAA football coaches’ association who is entering his third season as the head coach at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte.

Blount has worked at historically black colleges throughout his career, including head coaching stops at Delaware State and Winston-Salem State, which is his alma mater.  Blount was a spectator at last year’s CIAA title game.


Wiley College Introduces MacNeill as Head Volleyball Coach

Mike MacNeill is the first male head coach in Wiley Volleyball program history

MARSHALL, Texas -- On Friday at Alumni Gymnasium, Wiley College made history by introducing their first male women's volleyball head coach Mike MacNeill during a press conference.

"I have plans to help this program get back to winning conference championships and competing for NAIA Championships," MacNeill said. "I believe with the standards and expectations I have for our players, they will rise to the occasion."

MacNeill replaces LaKyva Bason – who went 28-18 in her second stint as coach and led the Lady Wildcats to two Red River Athletic Conference Semifinal Appearances. MacNeill joins the Wiley College coaching staff after spending two years as a high school boys' volleyball coach at Riverside Poly in California. The school hadn't won a match before MacNeill took over. He went 38-12 and guided Riverside Poly to the CIF Southern Section Championship semifinals.

Prior to Riverside Poly, MacNeill was the girls' volleyball coach at Martin Luther High School in Riverside, California. He led them to the CIF Southern Section Division 1A Quarterfinals and Semifinals in 2013 and 2014.

MacNeill excelled as a volleyball player – playing all positions on the court. He helped Clovis High School won back to back CIF Championships in his junior and senior season. He led California Baptist University to two NAIA Championships.

Wiley College Athletic Director Dr. Joseph Morale – who is also the Vice President for Student Affairs and Retention Services - explained why MacNeill was the perfect candidate for Wiley College.

"I realized that he was competitive knowledgeable and passionate," Morale said. "I knew he was the one when he referred to his family, there was a joy, and love that you cannot fake. He loves his wife and kids and he will love and care for his players."

The Lady Wildcats return nine from last season's 18-12 team which finished third in the Red River Athletic Conference with a 10-4 record and reached the conference semifinals. Returning players Alissa Johnson (FR/Beaumont, Texas) – who was a RRAC All-Conference Honorable Mention – and Kaylee Nickerson – who redshirt last season – were present.

"I feel like he is focused," Johnson said. "I feel like he can get on the court with us and dive for balls. Since he played all positions, he can help everyone."

MacNeill is excited to work with his new team.

"This group is something special," MacNeill said. "When I spoke to them on the phone, they said wanted to be challenged more and disciplined more. All the things that I'm going to bring, they were excited about it."

He is married to Holly MacNeill. Together they have two children Blake and Elizabeth. The MacNeill era begins on August 18 at the RRAC and Sooner Athletic Conference Crossover Tournament. MacNeill's first home game will be 6 p.m. August 29 against Mid-America Christian.


Two Impact Signees Join Bethune-Cookman Hoops

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida -- Bethune-Cookman University men's basketball Head Coach Ryan Ridder is pleased to announce two additions to the program in JUCO signees Armani Collins and David Francis.

"Collins is a 6-6 guard from the City College of San Francisco and we are excited about his abilities to stretch the floor," said Ridder. "He has similarities to Brandon Tabb in that he has a quick, high release and can shoot it from deep. He has experience at the Division 1 level and being a significant contrinuter for a very good junior college team."

In 31 games last season, Collins averaged 11 points-per-game and 4.4 rebounds-per-game. He shot 37.6% from three and 86.7% at the free-throw line. Collins also collected 18 steals and 24 blocks. His season-bests were a 25-point, 5-9 three-point shooting performance on Mar. 9 against Antelope Valley.

Collins signed with Portland State out of Stuart Hall High School in San Francisco. As a senior in 2016, he averaged 19.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per-game in leading Stuart Hall to a 30-4 record and perfect 10-0 mark in league play. He was named First Team All-Division 5 and Fifth Team All-NorCal by Max Preps. As a junior, Collins averaged 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per-game. He was team MVP as a junior and a senior and graduated holding the record for career scoring at Stuart Hall.

"Francis is a 6-6 forward from the College of Southern Maryland and originally from the Brooklyn, N.Y.," said Ridder. "He brings a relentless motor, toughness, and maturity from dealing with some off the court issues that made him grow up more than most young people have to. We are excited about the experience and toughness that he brings."

Francis joins the Wildcats after averaging 17 points and 8.8 rebounds-per-game for the Hawks last season. In 32 games, he shot 52.7% from the floor and 33.3% beyond-the-arc. The forward ranked 11th nationally with 117 offensive rebounds, and was 22nd with 283 total boards. Francis also blocked 34 shots and totaled 31 steals. He had a season-high of 16 rebounds twice and scored 20 or more points in 12 contests, with two 27-point outbursts for his season-highs.

He was named Second Team All-Region XX, Honorable Mention All-MD JUCO team and Region XX Tournament MVP. The Empire State native attended the Boys & Girls High School.

"They are both quality young men and we are excited to see what they can bring to Bethune-Cookman men's basketball," said Ridder.


Southern's Danny Johnson is ready to be a leader in a veteran defensive backfield

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Southern's Danny Johnson led the Football Championship Subdivision with seven interceptions in 2016.

Not good enough. His goal was 10.

Johnson finished with the fourth-most total tackles and had by far the most solo tackles on the Jaguars defense last year.

Not good enough. He could have been in better position to make more stops.

Given a significant boost by Johnson, Southern finished with a Southwestern Athletic Conference record of 8-1.

Not good enough — in more ways than one.

Heading into the 2017 season, Johnson isn’t assuming a new leadership role or taking on any duties he didn't have the past three years. He has been one of the best defenders, if not the best, and a defensive leader for the Jaguars since he first stepped on campus in the summer of 2014.

But as a senior, Johnson is now the unquestioned face of the Southern defense. And while nothing may ever be good enough for a player who constantly pushes himself to be his best, that isn’t going to stop him from trying.


S.C. STATE FOOTBALL: Pough likes stable of runners

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina -- Historically, South Carolina State has been the most dominant running team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Bulldog runners have been among the league’s top rushers since the inception of the league.

And, until last season, the MEAC career rushing leader was a Bulldog – William “Will” Ford, who amassed 4,672 yards during his career (2006-2009). North Carolina A&T’s Tarik Cohen surpassed Ford’s mark in 2016.

S.C. State's Ford, second; Michael Hicks (1993-1995), fourth; and David “DeShawn” Baker (2003-2006), sixth, rank among the MEAC’s top-10 rushing leaders. This dynamic Bulldog trio combined for nine 1,000-plus-yard rushing seasons and went over the 100-yard single-game rushing mark a combined 22 times.

However, 1,000-yard rushing seasons and 100-yard games have been a rarity since the departure of Hicks, Baker and Ford. The last back to reach the 1,000-yard rushing plateau in a season was Jalen “Scoot” Simmons – now with the Carolina Panthers – who achieved the feat in 2014. And the last back to go over the 100-yard rushing mark in single game was Bishop Ford last season.

Reaching such rushing milestones is certainly noteworthy, but you don’t have to have a 1,000-yard rusher to be effective on offense anymore. Strategies have evolved and the “throw” game has come into play, according to Bulldog head coach Buddy Pough, who is pleased at the stable of running backs S.C. State will have in 2017.