ASU’s search for a new coach is under way

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

Lorman — The search for the next Alcorn State women’s basketball coach is beginning to heat up.

Next Monday the coaching search committee will meet for the first time and begin going through the 28 applications they’ve received to replace Shirley Walker. The committee is comprised of the committee which is comprised of Assistant Athletic Director Debra Davis, head football coach Ernest T. Jones, head athletic director Cindi White, alumni Johnny Brown and Bessie Polk, faculty member Dr. Jennifer Young and senior point guard on the women’s basketball team Brittany Myatt.

Once they are able to review the 28 applications, a list of three to five “semi-finalists” will be given to Athletic Director Darren Hamilton. The next step will be to set up phone interviews. Hamilton said he hopes to have phone interviews done by the end of the work-day Wednesday. After the phone interviews are completed, Hamilton said they will bring in two finalists to interview in person.

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Of the candidates, Hamilton has several criteria he wants them to meet.

“They must be able to run a clean program,” Hamilton said. “We want to make sure we have a program that’s run with the highest level of integrity.”

The next criterion is name recognition — someone who has name recognition in the state so they can recruit Mississippi.

Lastly, Hamilton wants someone who is a proven winner, either at the high school, college or professional level.

Hamilton also said he would prefer the candidate to possess a masters degree in order to show the value of education.

Along with his criteria, Hamilton also has a vision of the type of program he wants, citing Georgia Tech’s MaChelle Joseph’s reclamation project with the Yellow Jackets as a good place to start.

While at Georgia Tech, Joseph has compiled an 84-66 overall record in five seasons, leading the Yellow Jackets to the program’s first NCAA tournament victory, first back-to-back tournament appearances and first consecutive 20-win seasons.

Although Hamilton said he has not contacted any former players, he did say he contacted former LSU head coach Dana “Pokey” Chatman — who politely declined the offer.

Currently, the program is being run by interim coach Jason Cable, but both Hamilton and Davis are unaware of Cable has applied to become the full-time coach.

Cable was unavailable for comment.

“If Jason has applied, he has done so in the last couple of days,” Davis said. “He has expressed interest in coaching, but I’m unsure if he wants to continue to coach (at Alcorn State).”

Prior to her being fired, Walker had a successful career at the helm of the Lady Braves’ women’s basketball program. In 30 years she had claimed 11 Southwestern Athletic Conference titles, 7 SWAC tournament championships, and a 442-336 overall record despite having two losing seasons in the last three years.

Although she had brought several titles and recognition to Alcorn State athletics, her legacy may have been tainted she was fired following heavy NCAA sanctions that were brought upon ASU in 2006.

In 2006 the NCAA cited that Walker had a lack of institutional control, used ineligible players, gave improper financial aid benefits and travel expenses and falsified practice logs.

As a result, ASU was banned from post-season play for a season, Walker was suspended for two games and the Lady braves’ 2005 NCAA Tournament appearance was removed from the record books.

In May, Hamilton had said in an interview that Walker’s violations were not a major factor in her firing — and that the program needed new blood.

“It didn’t play a major factor 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 in a May 15 article. “We have to make sure we preserve the integrity of the student athletes and do what’s best for the institution.”

The deadline to find Walker’s replacement is still July 7.