Jackson State’s acting president on Deion Sanders hire, university’s COVID-19 response

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – 2020 has seen many changes, including a big one for Jackson State University (JSU). Leaders hired NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as its next head football coach.

“At JSU, we do expect wins. We do expect him to win. We expect him to hit the ground running, and we anticipate that we know there are going to be some bumps in the road with any new administration, but we really expect success from this move,” said Thomas Hudson, acting JSU president.

The move to bring in a big name to take over the football program is already doing what Hudson was hoping it would do.

“An increase in sponsorships, those are things we are seeing already, just the interest from different sponsors and the entities that want to be apart of Jackson State University. Also an increase in season tickets, you saw the lines with the number of people who were buying tickets. That’s in addition to the tickets we have already sold and obviously from an enrollment state point. Anytime you see your name, the school’s name splashed across the Washington Post, USA Today, just on all of the news outlets that matters, it helps enrollment. It helps bring interest to the university. It’s really a game changer for our brand and the institution as a whole.”

Leaders at the school thought they would see a drop in enrollment this fall, but that’s not the case. They hope to get more students on campus in the spring amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We do have testing on campus the ability to rapid test, that’s a tool we have that we didn’t have at the beginning of the fall. There are several things in our favor that we feel we’ll be able to open up just a little bit more, but at the same time, we’re going to do everything in the best interest on the safety of the JSU students, faculty and staff.”

Jackson State has been digging out of a financial hole for the past several years, but Hudson said they’re on the right track.

“We’re managing efficiently. We do have the adequate cash on hand to maintain operations of the university. This is one of those situations, of course, but the university is managing well. But I don’t want to put a timeline when we’re out of the woods yet, but year by year, day by day, we are making improvements in our processes, and our cash is following those improvements.”

Hudson said the improvements should be seen in 12 to 18 months.

The university is still working on the spring semester calendar.

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