Hopson first white head football coach at Alcorn State

Alcorn State University named Jay Hopson as its new head football coach on Monday - the first white person to hold the position in the historically black Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Hopson, the defensive coordinator at the University of Memphis the last two seasons, was one of four finalists for the Alcorn State position and later withdrew his name from consideration before he accepted it.

University president M. Christopher Brown II introduced the 43-year-old Hopson, a Vicksburg native, at an afternoon news conference. Brown called the hiring "another chapter in the history of our legendary football program."

"I don't see black or white, we're all purple and gold," Hopson said, referring to Alcorn State's school colors.

Brown also informed the crowd that Hopson's application included an extensive statement on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate, a critical marker for post- season eligibility and student-athlete graduation rates.

Hopson replaces Melvin Spears Jr., who was fired in February after one season. The Braves finished 2-8 overall and 1-8 in the SWAC.

Hopson was the defensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi from 2005-07 and also brings coaching experience from Michigan, Marshall, Florida, LSU, Tulane, Delta State and Ole Miss, his alma mater.

He was a Marshall assistant when the Thundering Herd won the NCAA Division I- AA (now FCS) national title.

Other finalists for the position were Todd McDaniel, Alcorn State's defensive line coach and interim head coach since December, when Spears was put on administrative leave following his first season; Michael Armour, the Northern Colorado offensive coordinator and a former Alcorn State assistant coach; and Fredrick Farrier, the former head coach at Kentucky State.