Braves alumnus Dennis E. Thomas will be at center stage in documentary

Published 3:23 pm Monday, April 18, 2022

LORMAN, Miss. – Alcorn State alumnus Dr. Dennis Thomas has received several accolades in recent history for his contributions to the world of collegiate athletics as a former football player and administrator. Among those accolades is his induction into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference MEAC) Hall of Fame on March 10.

To commemorate the event, a short documentary Dennis E. Thomas Center Stage by Meadowlark Media was commissioned to highlight his accomplishments throughout the years. Alcorn State is excited to honor its own by showing the documentary on its athletics website. Braves fans and supporters can view the documentary at AlcornSports.com.

Thomas was the commissioner of the MEAC from 2002-21. He transformed the MEAC into one of the nation’s preeminent Div. I conferences by increasing student-athlete graduation rates, operating with financial prudence, and expanding the conference’s corporate footprint. He negotiated multi-million dollar contracts with ESPN and Nike, the former of which allowed for national broadcasts of football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s bowling, track & field, softball, and baseball.

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Thomas was the brainchild behind the Celebration Bowl, the only FCS postseason bowl game between the MEAC and SWAC champions televised live on ABC with a $1 million payout to each conference. He was also a driving force behind creating the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, which has kicked off the HBCU football season on ESPN or ESPN2 for 15 years. Prior to serving as Commissioner of the MEAC, Thomas spent 12 years as Director of Athletics at Hampton University, where he spearheaded the Pirates’ transition from the CIAA and Div. II to the MEAC and Div. I. The Pirates won 11 MEAC championships under Thomas, and the men’s basketball team upset No. 2 seed Iowa State in the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

As a student-athlete at Alcorn, Thomas was a two-time Pittsburgh Courier All-America First-Team selection in 1972 and 1973 and a Mutual Black Network All-American in 1974. He was the first and only offensive lineman in SWAC history to earn SWAC Offensive MVP honors.

Thomas led Alcorn to four consecutive winning seasons from 1970 to 1973 and compiled a 27-8-1 record. It included the 1970 SWAC Championship, where the Braves finished 8-1 (6-0 SWAC) and accumulated over 3,000 yards of total offense.

After his playing career, Thomas won three more SWAC Championships as an assistant coach at his alma mater in 1976, 1979, and 1984 under Marino Casem.

Thomas was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Alcorn A-Club Hall of Fame in 2010. He earned the prestigious Distinguished Service Award from the SWAC in 2019. Later this year, he will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the NACDA Hall of Fame.