Category Archives: Athletics

TSU takes precautions to help campus combat extreme heat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With the hottest month ever recorded around the world now over, Tennessee State University says it plans to continue taking precautions to keep the campus community safe.  The University has been proactive all summer long in sharing important information on how to beat the sweltering heat. TSU health officials and emergency management staff say their efforts will remain the same for the month of August.  

 Dr. Wendelyn Inman, interim public health program director at TSU, stresses the importance of staying hydrated to combat extreme heat and associated illnesses like heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and severe dehydration.

In response to the summer heat, the university’s emergency management team takes proactive measures to ensure the well-being of those on campus, outdoor security workers and maintenance staff.

“For a physician, their patient is an individual. For public health, our patient is the community,” Inman says. “We want our community to have the best outcome when that heat wave is going on.”

 Inman reiterates that drinking more water, staying in shaded areas, and wearing sunscreen are preventive mechanisms to do while outdoors to lower the impact of unmitigated sunshine. She adds that proper ventilation and climate-controlled spaces are just as important when indoors.

 Considering what you eat, drink, and wear, even in 82-degree or above sunny weather, can serve as a preventative measure. Dr. Latasha Williams, assistant professor and director of didactic programs in dietetics, says listening to your body is also crucial.

 “Opt for lighter meals, consume electrolyte-replenishing beverages and listen to your body.”

The Joe W. Gilliam Football Camp is a non-contact football camp for boys and girls ages 12 – 18 that took place at TSU during the summer. (Photo courtesy Tennessee State University)

 Dr. Williams contends that, “by following these strategies, you can help maintain adequate food and nutrient intake during extreme heat while also supporting your body’s hydration needs and overall well-being.”

 “Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that occurs due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures and inadequate fluid intake,” Williams explains. Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and fainting. While heat stroke sets in as high body temperatures, altered mental state, hot dry skin, and nausea.

 TSU director of sports medicine, Trevor Searcy, spoke about how the athletic department also takes innovative measures to ensure the athletes’ safety and mitigate possible heat illness as the university offers several outdoor sports.

From a brand-new hydration station, to rescheduling training sessions to early mornings, Searcy said the university has resources, protocols and emergency action plans set for preventable measures. “We are required to test wet bulb (globe temperature), which is ambient air, temperature, and humidity every 30 minutes of outdoor activity,” Searcy said.

The brand new TSU Hydration Center consists of drinks, fans, and snacks, ensuring that the athletes stay hydrated on and off the field.

 He notes that the department is cautious about heat after reaching 80 degrees by giving more water breaks, carrying ice towels, cold IV fluids and taking off lower and upper body equipment for football.

 “If it’s hot outside and you notice an athlete is not sweating, that’s a flag to pull them aside,” he said. “After 90 degrees, it is advised to go in doors and our coaches are really receptive to that.”

 The TSU Hydration Center consists of drinks, fans, and snacks, ensuring that the athletes stay hydrated on and off the field.

Together, TSU experts are navigating through the scorching temperatures and continue to demonstrate preparedness to beat the heat in Tennessee.

Generally, caution should be taken if the heat index is over 77 degrees (Fahrenheit). Above 82 degrees is considered ‘extreme caution’ — heat-related illness is possible with long exposure. Over 85 is dangerous — heat illness is likely and heat stroke is possible, according to Healthline.com.

The TSU emergency management team passes out cold refreshing beverages to students as the country had experienced unprecedented
heatwaves this summer.

From a public health standpoint, Dr. Inman said it’s important to be mindful of those who are more at risk of heat related illnesses.

In response to the summer heat, the university’s emergency management team has been taking proactive measures to ensure the well-being of those on campus, outdoor security workers and maintenance staff. Click here to see the emergency team distributing beverages to those patrolling the campus and cutting the lawn to demonstrate their commitment to the welfare of the university personnel to beat the heat in Tennessee.

TSU to mark historic milestone as first HBCU to introduce collegiate ice hockey

By Nick Guerriero

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is set to make history by becoming the first historically black college or university (HBCU) to offer men’s ice hockey at the collegiate level. TSU will make this groundbreaking announcement at Bridgestone Arena prior to the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday, June 28, 2023. The addition of ice hockey highlights the University’s dedication to fostering diversity, inclusion, and expanding athletic opportunities for students.

“Bringing ice hockey to Tennessee State University is a part of our continued commitment to provide our students with new opportunities and to broaden new interests in areas where they have traditionally had limited or no access,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“We appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Nashville Predators which has played a pivotal role in our decision to pursue this historic undertaking, of starting an ice hockey program at TSU, and the first for an HBCU. TSU has a tremendous legacy in athletics. Adding ice hockey to our programs will start a new chapter and build upon that legacy.” 

TSU President Glenda Glover

TSU Hockey will commence its inaugural season in 2024, signaling a new era for the university. The team will begin as a club-level program but aspires to achieve NCAA Division I status for both men’s and women’s sides in the near future. While no specific timeline exists for achieving varsity NCAA status, TSU is committed to building a solid foundation for long-term success.

“Today is a historic day as Tennessee State University, a prestigious HBCU, collaborates with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Nashville Predators in an unprecedented partnership,” stated Dr. Mikki Allen, TSU Director of Athletics.

“TSU had been a great partner of the Predators for some time, and we are excited to help them work toward the goal of becoming the first HBCU to field a NCAA Division I college hockey team. President Glover and Dr. Allen are visionaries in their respective positions and should be lauded for continuing to build Nashville into the ultimate hockey town.”

The club hockey program will receive comprehensive oversight under the guidance of the Department of Athletics, ensuring a well-structured and successful implementation. TSU is currently in the process of hiring a Director of Club Hockey Operations, who will be responsible for fundraising, seeking corporate partnerships, recruiting student-athletes, and managing day-to-day operations. In the interim, Assistant AD Nick Guerriero will handle all inquiries related to TSU Hockey.

Dr. Mikki Allen, TSU Director of Athletics

“I am thrilled to embark on this exciting journey with Dr. Allen to promote diversity and excellence in collegiate hockey,” said Guerriero. “We will strive to elevate the program to new heights, establishing a legacy that will inspire future generations. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the development of the program on and off the ice, and I eagerly anticipate the challenges and successes that await us.”

The foray into collegiate ice hockey represents a significant milestone for Tennessee State University and the broader HBCU community. By breaking barriers and creating fresh opportunities, TSU Hockey aims to establish a lasting legacy of inclusion, excellence, and athletic accomplishment.

“Together, we celebrate the power of collaboration as we dismantle barriers, diversify the game, and propel hockey into a new era of inclusivity,” Allen remarked. “This partnership serves as a catalyst, driving change and ensuring that the game we love embraces the beauty of diversity. With Tennessee State University, the NHL, and the Nashville Predators working hand in hand, we have the potential to reshape the future of hockey and inspire generations to come. Together, we will forge a path towards a more inclusive and united hockey community.”

To support this initiative, the NHL, NHL Players Association, Nashville Predators, and College Hockey Inc. will play integral roles in the lead-up to the announcement. College Hockey Inc. conducted a feasibility study in 2021, emphasizing the significance of introducing ice hockey at an HBCU to promote diversity and inclusion in sports.

“Introducing hockey at the collegiate level is always exciting but Club Hockey at Tennessee State University is truly special,” said Kevin Westgarth, VP Hockey Development & Strategic Collaboration. “Welcoming Club hockey at a storied HBCU is a meaningful step in the right direction for the sport and will undoubtedly contribute to the vibrant hockey community and inspire future generations of players.”

The Nashville Predators organization has maintained a strong relationship with TSU and began the partnership by joining the University in its February 2020 ‘One Million in One Month’ fundraising campaign as a major contributor. The Nashville-based NHL team has continued to donate to the TSU’s scholarship programs and provide internship and job opportunities through the TSU Career Development Center. 

Furthermore, during Black History Month in February 2022, the NHL hosted the Black Hockey History Tour at Hale Stadium, a pivotal step in bringing the sport of hockey to the TSU campus.

TSU to host nearly 40 educational, physical activity summer camps

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – If you’re a parent looking for activities to keep your child busy now that school is out, Tennessee State University might be just the solution. TSU is offering an array of summer camps, for all ages, to keep children engaged for the next three months. The camps include fun and educational enrichment activities to help retain what was learned during the school year. 

From Meharry’s summer Enhancing Virology Training (ENVIT) program, which aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students ages 15-16 in virology-focused careers, to the Eddie George HBCU Football Camp designed for high school football players interested in skill development and college recruitment, there is a wide range of camps available this summer.

Anthony Fallacaro, assistant director of Events Management, Camps, and Programs, stated that this year’s activities for Middle Tennessee students are essential as this is many of the participants first experience on a college campus.

“These camps and programs provide a safe space for students to build their skills in desired interest areas, develop social skills with their peers, and gain first-hand experiences in higher education environments,” Fallacaro said. “TSU takes great pride in providing these experiences and opportunities to our community.”

The Joe W. Gilliam Football Camp is a non-contact football camp for boys and girls ages 12 – 18. The activities are focused on teaching the skills fundamental to football, personal safety, various positions of interest, and improving on existing skills. (Photo courtesy Tennessee State University.)

Among the many exciting camps returning this year is the Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers Program, which aims to engage students in grades 6-8, to interact with technology through on-campus summer intensive courses and year-round mentoring. This program provides students with firsthand experiences and creates a more diverse pipeline for future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

The Grammy-award winning Aristocrat of Bands, fondly referred to as AOB, is hosting the Annual Edward L. Graves High School Summer Band Camp from June 11-17.

“This will be our 10th Camp,” said AOB’s Director, Dr. Reginald McDonald. “We are excited that this will be our largest High School Band Camp ever with 267 kids register from across the country.”

The Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) volleyball champ’s head coach, Donika Sutton, has a wide range of several training camps as well. From cubs to elite tigers camp, Sutton is hosting nine volleyball camps for girls ages six to 18.

The university is also a part of the Meharry-Vanderbilt-TSU Cancer Partnership High School Cancer Research Program, which focuses on the shared goal of eliminating cancer disparities through a proportional approach encompassing basic, translational, clinical, and population science for students ages 15-18.

Below is a list of this years summer camps. For more camp information email the Office of Events Management at [email protected] or visit https://www.tnstate.edu/events/camps.aspx

Name of Camp/ProgramStart DateEnd Date
Meharry Cancer Summer Undergraduate Research ProgramSunday, May 21, 2023Saturday, July 29, 2023
Meharry Summer ENVIT ProgramSunday, May 28, 2023Saturday, July 29, 2023
The Joe Gilliam Football CampTuesday, May 30, 2023Friday, June 2, 2023
Meharry-Vanderbilt-TSU Cancer Partnership High School Cancer Research ProgramTuesday, May 30, 2023Thursday, June 29, 2023
Upward Bound / Trio ProgramTuesday, May 30, 2023Friday, June 23, 2023
HBC Youth Summer Camp – College of EducationTuesday, May 30, 2023Saturday, August 5, 2023
Eddie George CampSaturday, June 3, 2023Saturday, June 3, 2023
Engineering Exploration Camp IISunday, June 4, 2023Friday, June 23, 2023
National Summer Transportation InstituteSunday, June 4, 2023Friday, June 30, 2023
Men’s Basketball Team CampWednesday, June 7, 2023Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Men’s Basketball Elite CampWednesday, June 7, 2023Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Eddie George CampFriday, June 9, 2023Friday, June 9, 2023
Men’s Basketball Elite CampSaturday, June 10, 2023Thursday, June 1, 2023
TSU Aristocrat of Bands Summer CampSunday, June 11, 2023   Saturday, June 17th, 2023  
Language Articulation and Fluency Summer camp Monday, June 12, 2023Thursday, July 20, 2023
Eddie George CampWednesday, June 14, 2023Wednesday, June 14, 2023
Men’s Basketball Team CampWednesday, June 14, 2023Sunday, June 4, 2023
Eddie George CampSaturday, June 17, 2023Saturday, June 17, 2023
Memphis Grizzlies Summer ProgramSaturday, June 17, 2023Saturday, June 17, 2023
SITES-M/MUREP 3.0 Summer AcademyMonday, June 26, 2023Friday, July 14, 2023
Agriculture Summer Apprenticeship ProgramSaturday, July 1, 2023Saturday, July 29, 2023
Volleyball: Cubs CampWednesday, July 5, 2023Thursday, July 6, 2023
Volleyball: Blocking/DefenseFriday, July 7, 2023Saturday, July 8, 2023
Volleyball: Serving/Serve ReceiveSunday, July 9, 2023Monday, July 10, 2023
Engineering Concepts InstituteMonday, July 10, 2023Friday, August 4, 2023
All Star Mathematics InstituteMonday, July 10, 2023Friday, July 21, 2023
Verizon Innovative Learning STEM Achievers Program Monday, July 10, 2023Friday, July 28, 2023
Volleyball: Setting/HittingTuesday, July 11, 2023Wednesday, July 12, 2023
Volleyball: Middle School Basic SkillsThursday, July 13, 2023Saturday, July 15, 2023
Volleyball: High School Basic SkillsMonday, July 17, 2023Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Volleyball: High School Team CampThursday, July 20, 2023Saturday, July 22, 2023
Volleyball: Elite TigersMonday, July 24, 2023Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Women’s Basketball Elite CampSaturday, August 12, 2023Saturday, August 12, 2023
Women’s Basketball Elite CampSunday, August 13, 2023Sunday, August 13, 2023

TSU student-athlete to graduate with 4.0 GPA, along with two degrees and an OVC championship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – For three years, Gina Rivera-Ortiz’s parents would drive two hours to get her to volleyball practice, in her native territory of Puerto Rico. Dedication that has paid off in the long run with Rivera-Ortiz’s becoming a decorated libero, a back-row defensive specialist, for Tennessee State University volleyball team. Add to her accomplishment an Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) championship and OVC tournament MVP in 2022 for the TSU Tigers.

Last season, Rivera-Ortiz became the all-time career leader in TSU history in digs.

Not only has Rivera-Ortiz, a TSU graduate student, put blood, sweat and tears on the court, she has put her all into her education as well.

“Since pre-kindergarten I’ve never passed a class with anything less than an A,” she said. “My parents raised me to want to be the best. I use my parents as motivation. I know they sacrificed for me to be who I am today.”

Rivera-Ortiz will be graduating this week with a master’s of arts and education in sports administration with a 4.0 GPA. She also had a 4.0 while attending TSU as an undergraduate.

For Rivera-Ortiz, volleyball is like a game of chess on a court, where every move counts. She told the university her main key factors on strategizing how to succeed in being a student athlete.

“Time management, discipline, and passion,” Rivera-Ortiz said. “Everything I do, I do it with passion. Be humble but use that drive of thinking you’re the best and working to be the best.”

Rivera-Ortiz, left, with Coach Sutton, right during a home conference match in Kean Hall at TSU.

TSU head volleyball coach Donika Sutton couldn’t agree more about Rivera-Ortiz’s work ethic as an athlete and person.

“Gina has realistically surpassed expectations,” Sutton said. “We are talking about someone who all five years has had a 4.0 GPA.”

Coach Sutton said she recruited Rivera-Ortiz from Lajas, Puerto Rico, and offered her a scholarship in 2018. Since that time, Sutton has watched her continuously grow every year.

“She helped me lead this team. The ability, the work ethic and her leadership were a huge part as to why this team was successful this year.”

Rivera-Ortiz after the TSU volleyball team won the OVC Tournament championship in 2022.

The TSU volleyball team won the OVC Tournament last November for the first time in 15 years. Out of the 132 games, Rivera-Ortiz never missed one. The international student said she is most grateful for TSU’s welcoming environment, that helped her succeed while being 1,700 miles away from home.  

“This was a place that made me feel the most wanted. That’s one of the things that kept me here.”

Rivera-Ortiz has already accepted a job offer at local non-profit organization Backfield in Motion, as a senior youth coordinator. The job aligns with her dream career related to community engagement for the NBA.

While Rivera-Ortiz was a part of the Puerto Rico women’s national under-23 volleyball team last year, she looks forward to one day competing for a spot on the Olympic volleyball team after obtaining a doctorates degree in psychology.

Check out the Puerto Rico native’s stats and recent accolades as the all-time OVC leader in career digs and in TSU history.

TSU recognizes the best and brightest, nearly 3,000 students celebrated during honors convocation 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University honored nearly 3,000 students, recognizing the best and brightest at its 2023 Spring Honors Convocation, which is a ceremony that  highlights academic rigor.

Among the convocation honorees were 2,974 Dean’s List students who maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and 483 President’s List scholars who maintained a 4.0 GPA and received medallions.

TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover, left, the Highest Honors Senior Award recipient Jae Walls, center, and Dean of the Honors College Dr. Coreen Jackson, during the 10th annual spring honors convocation. (Photo by Aaron Grayson) 

This year the Dr. McDonald Williams Highest Honors Senior Award recipient was Jae Walls, a presidential scholar from Atlanta, Georgia, who is one of the two students that were selected for the American Heart Association HBCU Scholars Program.

Walls is a junior studying biology who said she was proud of her award at the honors convocation. She noted how excited she was about the event being held in-person for the first time since the pandemic. 

“I am excited because everyone has been so busy at college, so I think this is a great opportunity to celebrate our academic achievements together,” Walls said. She noted that 2,974 students making the Dean’s List just shows what kind of talent TSU produces.

“It shows how intelligent students here at TSU are and how they can work through these hard classes. It is important to have events like this because it allows TSU to showcase how great the students are.”

Deja Story and Madison Taylor are two TSU freshman being recognized as Presidents List scholars this spring during the annual Honors Convocation. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Tyler Vazquez, a presidential scholar recipient and a Dr. Levi Watkins scholar who is studying molecular biology, said he looked forward to seeing his peers and college deans in-person to celebrate their hard work paying off.

“It’s incredible to be able to honor so many students for their academic excellence,” Vazquez said. “It is no easy journey … kudos to all the students.”

There are approximately 269 freshmen that were recognized for being on the President’s List as well. Also included are 165 Honors seniors that will be graduating this spring.

Of the 2,974 Dean List students, those with a 3.0 or above, 1325 are from TSU’s record-setting freshman class.  Last semester, the University welcomed over 3500 first-year students. It was the largest in school history and top among HBCUs. The incoming class also had a GPA average of 3.4.  The Honors College has a total enrollment of 824 students as of March 2023.

SGA Vice President Aliyah Holmes, left and President Glenda Glover, right, with the 2023 Honors Convocation speaker TSU alumnus Dr. Eddie R. Cole, center, who was presented an award during the event. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Dr. Coreen Jackson, the Dean of the Honors College, said she is proud to witness many outstanding students ecstatic about their impressive academic journey. “Despite them going through the pandemic and dealing with all the challenges for the last few years, these students have weathered the storms and continued to hold their heads up and continue to strive towards academic excellence,” Jackson said.

“We are so pleased and proud of their accomplishments. Having the opportunity to honor them is just amazing.”

The Honors Convocation keynote speaker was TSU alumnus Dr. Eddie R. Cole, an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA and the author of a multi-award-winning book, The Campus Color Line. During the event, Dr. Cole expressed his gratitude towards his undergraduate professors and experience at the university for setting him up for a successful professional career.

Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., scholars during the 10th annual honors convocation ceremony. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“In so many ways I am just thrilled to be here because looking at you, I see myself,” the 2007 graduate said to the honor students.

“One thing that is clear out of all my success as a student at the next level … was that Tennessee State University prepared me to be there. It was my HBCU experience,” Dr. Cole said.

For more information on the TSU Honors College, visit  https://www.tnstate.edu/honors/ .

NFLPA taps TSU Coach Eddie George to lead 2023 collegiate bowl

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State University head football coach Eddie George will lead a group of draft-eligible college players in the 2023 NFLPA Bowl. George, a Heisman Trophy winner and a former NFL standout, has been named one of the head coaches for this year’s event. The game will take place on January 28 and will continue its tradition of being played at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.

TSU coach Eddie George will lead a group of draft-eligible college players in the 2023 NFLPA Bowl

George will be coaching against his former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, who was also a coach in last year’s event. George was announced as the 22nd head football coach at Tennessee State University on April 13, 2021. George played college football for Ohio State University and won the Heisman in 1995. That season, George rushed for a school record 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns, an average of 148.23 yards per game, while also catching 47 passes for 417 yards and another score. He left Ohio State second in school history in career rushing yards (3,768) and third in rushing touchdowns (44). The Philadelphia native finished with 4,284 all-purpose yards, 45 touchdowns, and a 5.5 yards-per-carry average. 

In 1996, George was the first-round draft selection of the then-Houston Oilers. He won the NFL Rookie of the Year award that season and was the Oilers/Titans’ starting tailback through 2003, never missing a start. He made the Pro Bowl four consecutive years (1997–2000) and assisted the Titans to a championship appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV. 

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is the premier postseason all-star game for any draft-eligible college football player. More than just a game, this week-long experience provides players with the opportunity to showcase their game to NFL scouts and coaches, while learning from the best in the business. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl not only prepares players for the speed and intensity of professional football, but also for the business and lifestyle changes that come with it. 

The event, founded in 2012, gives players the best opportunity to showcase their talents to the NFL. Nearly 200 scouts, player personnel staff, general managers, and head coaches from all 32 NFL teams are expected to be in attendance to watch live practices, conduct player interviews and review tape. 

TSU tops in innovation, wins first place at inaugural T-Mobile ‘Unconventional’ Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received a major recognition for innovation. A program developed by the university using 5G technology to recruit and retain underserved students in the STEM field, won first place in the inaugural T-Mobile “Unconventional” Awards for innovation in customer experience, at the Mobile World Congress in Nevada, Las Vegas. The TSU academic eSports program, geared toward creating pathways for students from gaming to STEM, took the top honor in the first-ever awards created to recognize and celebrate T-Mobile’s business customers who dare to innovate. 

TSU beat out several top institutions and companies to win first place for innovation. (Submitted photo)

As a first-place winner, TSU was awarded a $25,000 in in-kind donation to the university’s favorite charity. 

“Being chosen by T-Mobile for Business as an Unconventional Award winner offers TSU more validation for its innovative and decidedly creative approach to addressing the issue of diversity in STEM fields,” says Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice president for SMART Global Technology Innovation Strategies. 

“This award highlights the educational value of using 5G technology to support eSports as a pathway to STEM programs and careers. Students are rewarded, not punished, for their passion for playing video games.”  

TSU’s T-Mobile recognition in innovation comes in just the second semester of the opening of its Academic eSports Center, which aims to use video games as a crucial steppingstone toward STEM careers. 

T-Mobile celebrates the winning teams at its inaugural ‘Unconventional” Awards ceremony. TSU’s team members appear far left. (Submitted photo)

Egypt Garrett, a competitive eSports gamer and freshman computer science major, says it is no surprise that TSU won the award.  

“I am very excited about TSU winning this award,” says Garrett, of Alexandria, Virginia, who is a member of one of the six teams at the university. “Personally, being at an HBCU, and someone one who enjoys technology and playing, having good gaming is having the best specs (PCs), the best wi-fi, and the center has those. I am so grateful for all the investment that went into it.” 

T-Mobile’s President for Business Group Callie Field says the Unconventional Awards was created to “honor organizations driving business and education forward with original thinking.”

Egypt Garrett, a competitive eSports gamer and freshman computer science major, says she is not surprised TSU won the award. (Submitted photo)

“We know a thing or two about innovating and transforming how work gets done, and we wanted to recognize that same spirit in the customers we support,” says Field. “This is more than just celebrating the winners’ accomplishments — it’s also a tribute to being bold and taking risks to advance business and education.” 

Melton, who is also interim provost and vice president for academic afffairs, says the TSU Academic eSport Center offers a career pathway program to get students interested in “behind-the-scene” work in areas such as coding, programming, game design, business management and entrepreneurship.  

“A state-of-the-art eSports center built on cutting-edge 5-G technology gives students the tools to dive deeply in gaming,” she says. “It also helps level the playing field for those who may not have had access to the technology required to participate in eSports.” 

Following TSU in the category of “Customer Experience” at the Sept. 29 awards were: Amazon Explorer, second place; and Motlow Sate Community College, third place. Other categories were “Employee Enablement,” and “Industry.” 

Award criteria were based on embracing unconventional DNA, demonstrating originality, and measuring impact. 

For more information on TSU’s SMART Technology Center, visit https://tsu-smartinnovationtech.netlify.app/ 

Featured Photo (Submitted)
A T-Mobile representative presents the First Place Award for Innovation in Customer Experience to the TSU team. Team members are, from left, Dr. Robbie Melton, Associate Vice President for SMART Global Technology Innovation Strategies; Dr. Effua Ampadu-Moss, Director of Esports Programs; Dr. Deborah Chisom, Executive Director of eSports Programs; and Robert Hassel, Director of Faculty Training for SMART Technology.

TSU and Tennessee Titans expand historic partnership with launch of team’s Impact Program, ‘ONE Community’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the Tennessee Titans continue their long-standing partnership with Tennessee State University, on Thursday the team officially announced the launch of their Impact Program, ‘ONE Community.’

The ONE Community platform includes multi-faceted programs that reach many of Nashville’s most underserved communities with a focus on three areas – Opportunity, Neighborhoods, and Education.

TSU is one of 16 local and regional organizations that is a part of the community benefits platform.

Tennessee Titans held a press conference at TSU on Thursday to officially announce the launch of their Impact Program, ‘ONE Community.’

“TSU is excited about the expansion of our partnership with the Titans and the opportunities students will gain to be successful through internships and employment with the team,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover during a press conference held at the university.

“Our historic relationship, an HBCU and NFL franchise, spans over 25-years and centers around both organizations’ commitment to serve communities in the city we proudly call home, Nashville.”

With ONE Community, TSU and the Titans will be expanding their long-standing relationship by launching a new partnership that will establish several initiatives including athletics, academics, students and university support through scholarship and job shadowing programs, professional development opportunities, and employment opportunities.

The team will also continue its partnership by hosting TSU games at the new stadium and engage in other TSU-related initiatives.

Tennessee Titans President Burke Nihill speaks during a press conference announcing the launch of, ‘ONE Community.’ (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The Titans will serve as the annual presenting sponsor of the John Merritt Classic and partner with TSU to expand gameday activation and expanded branding opportunities.

TSU graduate student Nykole Allen-Clark, who is the division captain for Project Destined, an organization that also partners with the Titans, said this opportunity is huge for the university.

“I am extremely excited about the Tennessee Titans partnership,” Allen-Clark said. “This program will provide students and adult learners with unmatched exposure to a development in the community.”

Adolpho Birch, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for the Tennessee Titans, said ONE Community represents a substantial amount of work and effort and is a product of extensive interaction and feedback from residents and community leaders. 

“Ultimately, increasing opportunities for workforce and small business development, nurturing and enhancing our neighborhoods in need, and supporting education at all levels are what the community believed would be most impactful,” Birch said.

Johari Matthews, a TSU alum and Titans Foundation’s programs director, said they are proud to announce their partnership. “Our valued relationship with President Glover, the TSU athletic department and the students and staff are all very critical to the Titans story,” Matthews said.

The Titans Foundation’s Programs Director, TSU alum Johari Matthews (center) with TSU students during a Titans press conference. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“We believe that every student deserves an educational journey with the resources, experiences, and access necessary to create a meaningful path to vocational and life success.”

The project has been underway for more than two years. The announcement comes on the heels of the city of Nashville and the Titans reaching an agreement on a newly proposed football stadium earlier this week estimated at $2.1 billion.

For more information about ONE Community, visit www.tennesseetitans.com/news/titans-launch-impact-program-one-community.

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research-intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Dr. Mikki Allen Selected to coveted NCMFC Coalition Academy

By TSU Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen  has been selected as one of 12 Athletic Directors to participate in the Coalition Academy coach mentorship program. The Coalition Academy was started in 2021 and it pairs Athletic Directors (AD) with minority head coach prospects.

Allen, who is entering his third year as TSU’s Athletic Directors, was the only FCS AD selected and the only AD from an HBCU. The list includes several power five ADs such as Greg Byrne from Alabama, Whitt Babcock from Virginia Tech, and Allen Greene from Auburn among others.
 
Dr. Allen will be paired up with Coach Dell McGee from the University of Georgia who is the Run Game Coordinator and the running backs coach. Tim Banks from Tennessee, Sherrone Moore from Michigan, and Des Kitchens are a few of the selected coaches. The Academy is coming off an incredibly successful first year, highlighted by the hiring of Marcus Freeman (Notre Dame), Tony Elliott (Virginia), and Jay Norvell (Colorado State).
 
“There is a certain closed-mindedness amongst decision-makers in college athletics who only hire candidates with coordinator experience,” Allen said. “The hiring philosophy, effective or not, limits the number of qualified minority applicants for available head coaching positions.

Throughout the history of college football, there has been a limited number of minority offensive and defensive play-callers,” Allen continued. “I believe that this is due, in part, because minority coaches many times ascend through the coaching professions by way of their recruiting process. This being the case, many times because they are so highly coveted as recruiters, they take lateral jobs and are not at the program long enough to gain coordinator experience.

The networking opportunities that the Coalition provides opens so many doors for these aspiring head coaches. College sports is a relationship-driven industry and its special that these individuals get an opportunity to be coaches and developed by leaders that share a vested interest in helping people and improving college sports,” he said.
 
In its first year, the Coalition Academy helped to counteract the narrative that there is a lack of qualified minority coaches to fill available positions and is helping to bring parity to the hiring process in college football. This is why, the Coalition Academy is excited to announce the launch of its second year and the new members of its class.

For more information about the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, please visit https://ncmfc.com/.

TSU Homecoming a major success with nearly $6 million raised for student scholarships; record attendance noted

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University 2022 Homecoming is one for the history books. From the Annual Scholarship Gala and the widely anticipated parade on Jefferson Street led by the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, to the coin toss at Nissan Stadium by TSU alumna and Daytime Emmy winning producer Erica Goings, all indications are that the events this year were a huge success. Thousands of alumni and friends from across the nation returned for the weeklong celebration that capped off with the TSU Tigers’41-17 trouncing of the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats in the Homecoming football game.

TSU President Glenda Glover waves to the thousands who gathered along the parade route on Jefferson Street. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“Back in Stride Again” was the theme, which emphasized picking up from where things ended last year, when the university returned to in-person celebration following a two-year break due to the pandemic. The spectacular events also highlighted a stellar group of honorees and grand marshals. Andrella Kenner, Global Warming Ambassador; and the Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, served as Grand Marshals for the Homecoming Parade, while former TSU first lady Edwina Hefner, and Communications and Public Relations Executive, Dr. Harold Jackson, received the distinction as honorees.   

Student success was a big winner, with corporations, groups and individuals stepping up to make donations for scholarships that totaled more than $6 million. TSU President Glenda Glover, surrounded by company executives and representatives during the halftime show at Nissan Stadium, thanked them for their gifts and support to the university.    

TSU fans celebrate as the Tigers tame the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats during the Homecoming game at Nissan Stadium. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“TSU students are our greatest investment, and it speaks volumes about the corporate community and their social responsibility, along with alumni to see them give back in such a major way,” President Glover said. “This level of support is truly inspiring and makes Homecoming even more exciting.” 

As always, Homecoming is a time to rekindle old friendships. That sentiment was not lost on Doretha Watkins Crisp, Betty Wilke, Janice Webb, and Nearlene Bass Johnson, all from the Class of ’78, as well as Doris McKinnie Littleton and Helen McKinnie Golden, Class of ’80. The six met at TSU and have been friends ever since.  Every year for Homecoming, they pay a visit to where it all began, at TSU.  

The world-renowned TSU Aristocrat of Bands make their much-anticipated appearance at the Homecoming parade. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“We’ve lost two friends over the years, but we still get together, all from a friendship we formed at Tennessee State University,” said Crisp, as the six sat together along Jefferson Street, near campus, decked in their TSU paraphernalia to watch the parade. “We come to Homecoming together. We bring our husbands; we meet other friends, and we just have a good time.”   

Webb added: “Homecoming is like a family reunion. You come and see people you haven’t seen in years. The amazing thing is we recognize each other. We may not always remember the name, but we remember the faces, and once we start talking, it’s like, ‘Hey, we had a class together.’”   

L-R, Doretha Watkins Crisp, Betty Wilke, Janice Webb, Nearlene Bass Johnson, Doris McKinnie Littleton and Helen McKinnie Golden formed a friendship at TSU that has lasted nearly four decades. They return together each year for Homecoming. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

For freshmen Sir-James Ford and Jamiyah Dozier, attending their first Homecoming was an eye-opening experience.  

“I really had no idea about what it was going to be like, because I have never experienced anything like that before,” said Ford, a business administration major from Nashville, who is president of the freshman class.  “The pep rally, the step show, the concert, all of that changed my experience about what Homecoming is about.”   

Sir-James Ford

“Homecoming was fun. It is nice having everybody back on campus and actually being able to gather and meet more people,” said Dozier, a health science major from Huntsville, Alabama, who attended the Homecoming with her parents. “It was really exciting to be in a new environment and have another opportunity to meet more people and just have fun.”   

Grant Winrow, chair of the Homecoming Committee, said, “Fun and excitement was exactly what we were hoping for. We were definitely back in stride again and accomplished our mission with a cherry on top with the win on the football field.  And our event was safe. That was one of our main goals.”   

Jamiyah Dozier

While receipts from the Scholarship Gala, TSU’s signature fundraising event, are still being tabulated, Winrow believes the event was very successful. He said more than 125 entrants took part in this year’s parade, one of the largest in school history. Over 22,000 turned out to watch the football game in Nissan Stadium, while a record 15,000 were outside tailgating.