Thursday, July 3, 2014

LLJuna Weir Becomes Interim Athletic Director at Alcorn State

{Photo from MEAC web site}
The Alcorn State athletic program has reached back to a reliable source to temporarily lead their intercollegiate program.

LLJuan Weir, associate director of athletics and senior administrator, has been named interim athletics director, the Southwestern Athletic Conference school has announced.

Weir, an Alcorn graduate, has been with the University for 16 years and has been in her current position since 2008.

“I believe in Alcorn athletics,” Weir said in a story posted on the Alcorn State website. “Working together, we can and will accomplish more. I believe in the power of members of the athletic family—our athletes, coaches, employees, student workers and alumni.”

The position has been in a state of flux since 2012 when Patric David Simon accepted that job in February of that year, but abruptly resigned two months later.  Simon, who had been at Langston before coming to Alcorn, then turned up as Tuskegee's athletic director that summer. He then resigned again, this time eight months into his Tuskegee tenure. He cited personal reasons.

Former NFL player Dwayne White became the interim athletic director at Alcorn after Simon's resignation.  White stepped down from the post last week.

School officials are searching for a full-time athletic director. 

On First Day in Office, Interim Grambling President Cynthia Warrick Removes Athletic Director and Mens Basketball Coach


Grambling's interim president, Cynthia Warrick, wasted no time in making changes in the beleagured Tigers athletic department. 

The day after she began her tenure, she fired removed athletic director Aaron James and men's basketball coach Joseph Price from their positions.

"My primary focus as interim president is to move Grambling State University to a competitive position of excellence at every level," Warrick said in a statement issued by the University.  "I have started the process of making several strategic changes in my administrative team, which is a customary practice in transitions such as this. The significant challenges facing Grambling make these decisions even more important, and I am committed to assembling the best talent possible in order to move the University forward."

James told The News-Star (La) newspaper that he found out through a letter from the president's office.

"I didn't foresee it coming, but I do understand when you change president's — I've been in the system long enough — a lot of times the president's have the people they want to bring into different positions, and I do understand that," James said to the paper in a story published by The News Star. "It caught me off guard a little. Between working with athletics and playing professional basketball, those types of things happen all the time. I would have preferred that (the news came in person meeting), but whether you have a conversation or get a letter, it's the same outcome."

The Grambling athletic department has gone through several highly-publicized controversies.  In 2013, only two years removed from winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference title but a then 1-10 season after that, Grambling and Super Bowl hero Doug Williams was fired.  Williams said it was more political than it was for what was happening on the field, mainly having to do with an outside group of Grambling boosters who were raising funds to support the football program. Williams said former president Frank Pogue, opposed the fundraising by the group.

Football players were unhappy with Williams' firing, along with conditions of their facilities and having to make long travel weekends by bus.  They eventually walked out on a meeting with Pogue, boycotted a game at Jackson State and became a national story about player treatment.  Ragland was fired and replaced by assistant coach Dennis "Dirt" Winston.

The Grambling mens basketball program had fallen on hard times in recent years, enduring an 0-28 season in 2012-13.  Price was 5-52 during his two seasons - including a 45-game Division I losing streak - at Grambling, but seemed to finally be turning the program around. 

He won't get to see the fruits of those labors.

"I feel great about the progress we made with the program over the last two years," Price said in a statement published by the News-Star (La.).  "When I took the head coach position, Grambling was facing serious NCAA sanctions that required us to focus on academic eligibility, retention and the team's graduation rate, which in summary is the Academic Progress Rate.

"The program is now past most of the challenges and a foundation has been laid for a successful program," he said.  "I believe that Grambling will have a winning season this year, and I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to get the program on the right track."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fifth Coach Since 2010, MarQus Johnson Vows to Take St. Augustine's Men's Basketball to New Heights

(Photo from St. Augustine's Athletics Dept Web Site)
St. Augustine's is looking to MarQus Johnson to bring some stability to the head coaching position in their men's basketball program.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association institution has named the assistant coach the school's new head coach.  It is the fifth change in the head coaching position since 2010. Virginia State head coach Lonnie Blow Jr. led the team from 2008 through 2010, followed by Ken Spencer's two seasons.  Blow came back for the 2012-13 season before going to Virginia State. He was succeeded by Tony Sheals, who was named head coach at Virginia Union in April.

Now Johnson, who had been an assistant under Blow and Sheals, gets his shot.

"I think its time to give him his due and see where he can take the program," St. Augustine's athletic director and track and field coach, George Williams, said according to a story on the school's athletic department web site. "I have the utmost confidence in his ability to lead."

Johnson takes over a program that was 13-16 last season under Sheals.  The Falcons have hovered around the .500 mark in each season since Blow's 27-5 CIAA championship campaign in 2010

Johnson has had success as an assistant and as a semi-pro head coach.  He was an assistant under Blow from 2008 to 2010 before going to the Continental Basketball League as head coach of the Cary Invasion.  Cary was 22-5 in his two seasons, winning a CBL title.

"I am honored and humbled while also being appreciative of the opportunity that Saint Augustine's University [Interim] President Dr. [Everett B.] Ward and Coach Williams have given me," Johnson said in the web story.  "I will work diligently and with great passion to take this program to new heights. Our goal will be to recruit young men who not only value the opportunity to play collegiate basketball, but also have a sense of urgency in every aspect of winning.  When I say winning, I mean on the court, in the community and, most importantly, in the classroom."