Walker is third Alcorn coach fired this school year

Published 12:20 am Friday, May 16, 2008

LORMAN — Alcorn State officials continue to clean house in Lorman, with women’s basketball coach Shirley Walker being the latest casualty.

Walker was fired Thursday after 30 years as the Lady Braves head coach.

“At Alcorn State, we expect our coaches to recruit, retain and graduate the student-athletes,” Alcorn athletic director Darren Hamilton said. “Sometimes you need new blood to resuscitate the program.”

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Walker, an Alcorn graduate, had great periods of success over her 30-year tenure.

She won 11 Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season championships and seven SWAC Tournament titles.

She compiled a 442-336 overall record, but had losing records in two of the past three seasons, including a 12-18 mark last year.

Walker’s great success at Alcorn was tempered by heavy NCAA sanctions in 2006 for multiple NCAA violations, including a lack of institutional control.

The school and Walker were cited for violations including using ineligible players and giving improper financial-aid benefits and travel expenses.

The NCAA also found that Walker falsified practice logs and provided false and misleading information to the NCAA.

Walker was suspended for two games, the team was banned from postseason play for a year and the Lady Braves’ 2005 NCAA Tournament appearance was removed from the record books.

Hamilton said that was not a major factor in the decision to fire Walker.

“It didn’t play a majorfactor because all of our coaches are expected to follow the rules, whether they be by the school, the IHL, the NCAA or the SWAC,” Hamilton said. “We have to make sure we preserve the integrity of the student athletes and do what’s best for the institution.”

Hamilton said that he would select a search committee that would begin no later than May 26 and he hopes a new coach will be named by July 7.

Walker is the third Alcorn State coach to be fired this school year.

Former football coach Johnny Thomas was let go in December and replaced by Ernest Jones and basketball coach Samuel West was fired in March and replaced by Larry Smith.