Booster group is hawkish on reviving UMES football

Colleges

State notebook

September 29, 2006|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun reporter

Some futile efforts have been made to revive football at UMES, which had a rich history in the sport until its team was disbanded after the 1979 season.

"Those attempts fell through the cracks because of insufficient money," said Joanne Johnson-Shaw, the chairwoman for Hawks For Football Inc., the latest group attempting a breakthrough. "But I believe that once everybody is convinced that we are committed, they're going to get on board."

Because of the expense involved, the school administration has balked at restoring a program that produced a sizable number of NFL players, including the likes of Oakland Raiders coach Art Shell, Roger Brown, Gerald Irons, Johnny Sample, Emerson Boozer and Mack Alston.

A feasibility study submitted to school president Thelma Thompson last summer brought a recommendation that football not be reinstated at this time.

But that is not deterring Hawks For Football, which has created two endowment funds - including one in the name of legendary coach Skip McCain - and is planning a Legends Banquet featuring the former pros next year. The group also has enlisted former Hawk Billy Thompson, the director of player relations for the Denver Broncos, as a spokesman,

Hawks For Football, which was formed last December, meets monthly in an attempt to drum up widespread support and is now launching an aggressive marketing campaign. The goal is to have some sort of football back by 2010.

"We're trying to raise a minimum of $3.3 million," said Bryant Mitchell, a former player and current professor at the school. "We're looking at different fund-raising events because the biggest impediment is the perception of how much this is going to cost."

The details as to which level the program might resume - club, Division III, scholarship, non-scholarship - are dependent on how much money is raised. Eventually, UMES probably would aim for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference if the initial drive is successful.

"We have a strategic plan," Shaw said. "We have too much of a legacy in football just to settle for none."

For more information, go online to www.umes.edu and look for the football link under alumni affairs.

Rotating QBs

Morgan State probably will rotate quarterbacks again when it faces another tough MEAC opponent, Bethune-Cookman, at home tomorrow.

Junior Byron Selby (Dunbar) and sophomore Mario Melton shared duty in last week's loss to Hampton, the No. 1 team in the Black College Football Poll. Bethune-Cookman (3-1, 2-0) is ranked fourth.

"I'm quite sure it'll be the same duet," said Morgan State coach Donald Hill-Eley.

Undefeated Hampton shows no signs of letting up, so this is a must-win game for the Bears (1-3, 0-1) if they are to enter the championship race. Except for a 28-point outburst in their lone win against Division II Bowie State, the Bears' offense has been struggling to score.

Conversely, the Wildcats are averaging 37.8 points and have the top passer in the league in Jarod Rucker, who is No. 1 nationally in pass efficiency (188.2 rating).

"They have evolved the triple option into a quadruple option," Hill-Eley said.

Towson (4-0), ranked 19th in Division I-AA, is idle this week.

Et cetera

Marquise Kately, who started 34 basketball games over two seasons at California, has joined former Cal coach Todd Bozeman at Morgan State. Kately will sit out this season after leaving Berkeley for personal reasons after a suspension from the team, according to Inside Bay Area.com. ... Salisbury's 19-game winning streak in field hockey ended this week with a 2-1 loss at Rowan. The Sea Gulls are three-time defending Division III national champs.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

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