Alcorn State University’s mistake, Percy Norwood said, has now been rectified.
Melvin Spears, the school’s controversial, boastful and recently suspended football coach, was fired this week.
“Sometimes in life you make mistakes,” said Norwood, president of Alcorn State’s national alumni association. “You have to accept that. We made a mistake. We’re rectifying it.”
Also on Friday, Alcorn announced the hiring of Patric Simon from Langston University in Oklahoma City as the school’s athletic director. Simon takes a job that was vacant for nearly a year.
Spears’ firing wasn’t all that surprising – it came more than a month after The Clarion-Ledger reported in January that Spears’ faced a pre-termination hearing.
Still, it was met by a roaring applause when Alcorn President Christopher Brown made the announcement in front of several hundred purple-and-gold clad Alcornites who attended Friday’s alumni conference at the Vicksburg Convention Center.
“You show your knowledge and character, or you go from the Alcorn campus,” Brown bellowed to an applauding audience.
Just a year ago, Alcorn fans cheered in the downtown Jackson Marriott when Spears’ hiring was announced.
That seems so long ago.
In between, Spears, who did not return a call seeking comment, had one tumultuous ride in Lorman.
The Braves won just two games and lost eight in a season rife with bumps. There was a preseason, on-campus argument with a player’s father, sagging attendance (Alcorn got a combined 3,000 at its final two home games), the dismissal of once-star quarterback Brandon Bridge and a season-ending 51-7 loss to rival Jackson State University.
The result: the school’s fifth different coach in the last six years.
Todd McDaniel, the team’s defensive line coach and a former Wingfield High School coach, is taking over in the interim, but a national search to replace Spears will be conducted.
This is the second time in six years Spears has been fired by a school.
Two years ago, Spears was awarded about $600,000 in a wrongful termination suit against Grambling State University, which fired the coach in 2006 after three seasons.
Spears has two years left on a contract at Alcorn paying him about $130,000 yearly. But Brown said Spears was terminated “with cause” and that he isn’t owed any of the money.
Asked what Spears did, Brown said Spears violated the school’s “code of conduct” but did not get more specific.