Alcorn breaks color barrier

LORMAN, Miss. — The Southwestern Athletic Conference has its first non-black head football coach in its history.

On Monday, Alcorn State announced Jay Hopson as its new head coach, replacing the fired Melvin Spears. Hopson is white.

“The future for Alcorn football is bright and I am excited that coach Hopson will lead us forward,” Alcorn State president M. Christopher Brown II said in a statement.

Hopson, who played defensive back at Ole Miss from 1988-91, was most recently defensive coordinator at Memphis. He resigned from that position in September after he was reportedly told he would be reassigned to a new position. Memphis was 0-2 at the time after 47-3 and 59-14 losses to Arkansas State and Mississippi State, respectively. The Tigers finished 2-10, leading to the firing of head coach Larry Porter.

Hopson also coached at Marshall, Delta State (Miss.), Southern Mississippi and Michigan.

The hiring comes almost three months after the search for Spears’ successor was launched and more than a month after the Braves played their spring game. Spears was fired in late February.

Alcorn State, which was 2-8 last season, will open the season against Grambling State on Sept. 1 in the Port City Classic in Shreveport, La. The Braves will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sept. 15.