Just weeks removed from a medical emergency that imperiled his football program's most lucrative contest and jeopardized the entire season, Alcorn State athletics director Derek Horne could be on his way out from his oversight of the Braves' athletics programs, multiple sources told FootballScoop.
Per several sources with direct knowledge, Alcorn is expected to name Cyrus Russ - the school's senior associate athletics director and head of NCAA compliance - as the program's interim athletics director once it formally separates from Horne.
Sources told FootballScoop that Alcorn had engaged in buyout discussions with Horne, and, on the same day that students on the Lorman, Mississippi, campus protested a variety of topics, school president Dr. Felicia M. Nave was scheduled to host a meeting on campus with administrative officials today at 5 p.m. CST.
Two weeks ago, in a story first reported by FootballScoop, Alcorn almost had to forgo its scheduled game at South Alabama – a step-up game in terms of the Football Championship Subdivision Braves playing up against the Football Bowls Subdivision Jaguars – because Alcorn had no certified athletic trainers on hand.
That element forced Alcorn to cancel its first two practices of the week, as it had relied on part-time coverage from athletic trainers in the region, and instead hold only “walk-through” dress rehearsals before their game at South Alabama, which included a $350,000-plus payday for the Alcorn athletics department.
Had Alcorn football coach Fred McNair not helped his Braves team get athletic trainer coverage by midweek and been forced to cancel the game, the Alcorn athletics department would have owed the South Alabama athletics department a similar six-figure payment.
McNair emphasized that the Alcorn administration was responsible.
“We got a big game (at South Alabama) that's going to make the university money,” McNair said on radio five days before the game against the Jaguars, “and we can't go out and get treatment for the young men and women. We can't get treatment or rehab on this day, not knowing what's going to happen. This is something that needs to be fixed. This is an administration issue. I could talk about it all the way till I turn blue. This has got to be fixed.
“We've got to be able to pay somebody to be the Alcorn State athletic trainer, and we don't have one. That's disheartening. I told the players the reason we weren't going to practice this morning was because we didn't have a certified trainer and you could hear the room. It was a bad feeling for me to have to tell them.”
Alcorn, finally, hired its own full-time athletic trainer last week prior to its Southwestern Athletic Conference opener last Thursday at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
But the Braves' athletics programs had been without a full-time trainer for nearly two months, after the person earlier hired into the position returned to his previous job.
Horne had served as Alcorn's athletics direction since August 2014, having accepted the post 14 months after he was fired from the athletics director's position at Alcorn rival Florida A&M.
Horne's top move as Alcorn A.D. was to hire McNair to run the Braves' football program. A former standout quarterback at Alcorn and brother of the program's biggest star, the late Steve McNair, Fred McNair has elevated the Braves to new heights in its modern era.
Alcorn has won a pair of SWAC titles, four Eastern Division banners and made multiple Celebration Bowl appearances under McNair, who's also been honored twice as the league's coach of the year.
The Braves, with an open date this weekend, are trying to this year win the SWAC's Western Division title after switching sides in the league as it expanded to 12 teams. They return to play Oct. 9 at home against long-time rival Grambling State.
Additionally, per sources, Alcorn's Gayilyn Sanders - the school's athletics office manager and special projects coordinator - submitted her letter of resignation and a formal complaint to Alcorn President Dr. Felicia M. Nave, who last week was issued a scathing rebuke from Alcorn's Student Government Association. Per a letter obtained by FootballScoop, Alcorn's SGA issued a statement of "No Confidence" in Dr. Nave and "to officially call for the resignation" of Nave.
Thursday evening update> Subsequent to our report, Director of athletics Derek Horne has announced he is stepping down.