Alcorn cancels practice because of lack of training staff

Published 2:24 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Alcorn State’s football team earned its first win of the season on Saturday, but its coach was far from happy on Monday for reasons that had nothing to do with how they played.

In his weekly radio show, head coach Fred McNair said the Braves were unable to practice on Monday and their Tuesday practice might also be canceled because no athletic trainers were available.

NCAA rules require a trainer to be present for all practices, and Alcorn does not have one on staff. It contracts its trainers from Merit Health.

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Alcorn State (1-1) is scheduled to play at South Alabama (2-0) this Saturday at 7 p.m. South Alabama announced Tuesday that there were no current plans to cancel the game.

USA Today reported Tuesday that, if the game were canceled, Alcorn would have to pay $360,000 in damages to South Alabama.

“We lose a day now because we didn’t (practice Monday). Right now I’m in limbo of which way this is going to go,” McNair said on his radio show Monday evening. “We’re about to do something special, which is go play an FBS team to make money for this university, and we don’t have a full-time athletic trainer to help our guys get back to the playing field. That’s where we’re at.”

In a statement released to WLBT-TV, Alcorn State athletic director Derek Horne said the practices were canceled because of a COVID-19 issue.

“The Alcorn State University athletic teams have modified their practice schedules because of a COVID-19 related issue,” Horne said. “Throughout the pandemic, the health and safety of our student-athletes remain our top priority. Alcorn will continue to monitor and maintain compliance with CDC, Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), and Institutions of Higher Learning guidelines, in addition to state and local regulations pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

McNair spoke at length about the situation during a segment of his radio show. He said the university’s trainer, Fred Worthy, is contracted through Merit Health and informed the school last week that he would not be on campus Monday or Tuesday of this week.

McNair said Worthy is expected to return to campus Wednesday. The lack of a trainer not only suspended the team’s preparation, McNair said, it prevented players from rehabbing injuries from Saturday’s 13-10 victory over Northwestern State.

A clearly frustrated McNair said the lack of an on-staff trainer is an ongoing issue that “needs to be fixed.”

“We’ve got a big game that’s going to make the university money, and we can’t go out and get treatment or rehab on this day and not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow. This is something that needs to be fixed,” McNair said. “This is an administration issue. I can talk about it all the way until I turn blue, but its an administration issue. We’ve got to be able to pay these folks. We’ve got to be able to pay somebody to be an Alcorn State University athletic trainer. And that’s disheartening.”

McNair added that the issue is not only a problem for football, but the entire athletics program.

“It’s bad that it has to come out like this, but somebody’s got to understand that this can’t happen,” McNair said. “This needs to be taken care of. This is something that needs to be taken care of today.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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