Alcorn awards Marino Casem with honorary doctorate

The knitting of Alcorn State University’s cloth of excellence can be attributed to a number of ingenious individuals. Marino “The Godfather” Casem, a forefather who led the Braves football team to prominence in the 1980s, is one of those special individuals who will forever be recognized for contributing to the University’s prestige.

On Sat. Sept. 23, the legendary head football coach was presented an honorary doctorate degree for leaving an outstanding legacy at Alcorn during the Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium and Dwight Fisher Field’s 25th anniversary program.

Being honored by the school that groomed him as a coach and leader was a pleasant surprise for Casem. He showed his appreciation by thanking President Alfred Rankins Jr. and the University for their recognition.

“It’s hard to express how pleased I am that President Rankins thought to bestow such a great honor on me,” said Casem. “I was really surprised and more than happy to receive the honor.”

During his tenure with the Braves, Casem led the team to seven Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) football championships and four Black College Football National Championships. In 1984, he led the Braves to a perfect 9-0 regular season record, which led to a number one ranking in the NCAA Division I-AA poll. It was the first time in history that a historically black college or university (HBCU) finished the regular football season as a number one seed. Casem went on to become the all-time winningest coach in Braves history.

Casem also served as athletic director for the Braves. Under his leadership, the Braves men’s basketball team won 13 regular season titles and three regular season women’s basketball championships. In 1979, the men’s basketball team became the first HBCU to capture a win in the National Invitation Tournament. He also led the effort to build the Davey L. Whitney Arena, which is now known as the Davey L. Whitney HPER Complex.

The now “Dr. Casem” reflected on his time on campus, noting that it was at the University where he matured into the wise man that he is today.

“Alcorn helped me to grow into a man. It was a wonderful place to work because I worked with a great crew. Everyone was very helpful. I worked hard to be an ambassador for this institution, and I am pleased that they thought that my work was worth recognizing.”