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Alcorn State fires Spears, hires AD

VICKSBURG — Alcorn State University President M. Christopher Brown announced the firing of head football coach Melvin Spears and the hiring of two new athletic employees Friday afternoon.

Patric David Simon will serve as athletic director for Alcorn, and Todd McDaniel will be the coordinator of football operations, Brown said. The announcements came at Alcorn’s National Alumni Association mid-winter conference at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Spears, who had been on administrative leave for more than two months, was 2-8 this past season, including a 51-7 loss to rival Jackson State University. Attendance steadily declined for the Braves in 2011, with just 500 attending Alcorn’s final home game against Prairie View A&M Nov. 12, according to school reports.

Brown said at the end of 2011, interim athletic director Malvin Williams recommender to Brown that Spears be terminated. Spears elected to have a grievance hearing with a panel of his peers in January, Brown said.

“They deliberated and wrote a recommendation to me as president, and their recommendation was to terminate him, which I accepted,” Brown said.

Since then, the Braves’ football program has been in the hands of McDaniel, and Brown gave high praise for how McDaniel handled the situation.

“He’s stepped up and led the program without any reservation or hesitation when Coach Spears went on suspension,” Brown said.

McDaniel, an Alcorn alumnus who is a former principal and head football coach at Hazlehurst High School, will oversee the Braves’ spring training.

“I’m 100 percent behind McDaniel,” Brown said. “I think he’ll continue to stabilize the program, and he’ll come back to me with what he thinks is an appropriate timetable (to hire a new head coach).”

Simon comes to Alcorn from Langston University in Oklahoma, where he served as athletic director for the past three years. During his time at Langston, the university won 10 conference championships between the Red River Athletic Conference and the Central State Football League.

“He stood out in every stage of the interview process,” Brown said. “I’ve never seen the level of academic performance out of an athletic program that he was able to get while he was at Langston. He’s just phenomenal.”