In celebration of 100 years of football at Alcorn State University, a tribute to the life and legacy of the late Marino H. Casem, former legendary football coach and athletic director, is set for Thursday, November 11, in the Gold Room of the Clinton Bristow Jr. Dining Hall. The event will kick off with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the tribute program at 7 p.m., and is presented by family and friends of Coach Casem in partnership with Alcorn.
Per CDC recommendation, face coverings will be required.
“Known as the “Godfather,” Coach Casem was one of the greatest coaches and administrators ever, but more than that, he was an incredible man,” said Cyrus Russ, Alcorn interim athletic director/vice president of athletic compliance and academic services. “He was a special human being who earned an enduring legacy because of his character, his values, and commitment to producing winners on and off the field.”
Under the theme, “Grateful – A Memorial Tribute to Legendary Football Coach and Athletics Director Marino H. Casem,” the event will pay homage to the man who helped put the Alcorn Braves on the college football map.
“When I joined the Alcorn State staff in 1980 as sports information director, it didn’t take long for me to realize that Coach Casem was a man of impeccable character,” said Lonza Hardy, one of the event coordinators and media relations and research consultant for MEAC. “There was an aura of greatness about him. He led by example by making sure that no one outworked him.”
Hardy continues, “That rubbed off on everyone who surrounded him – from his players to his coaches and staff. It motivated you to work harder than your peers. To get a compliment from Coach Casem meant that you had achieved something good, that you were on the right track towards accomplishing great things in life.”
During his 22 years as the program’s head football coach, the team captured seven Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) football championships and four Black College National Championships. He was named SWAC Football Coach of the Year seven times and Black College National Coach of the Year seven times.
As athletics director, Casem was regarded as one of the nation’s leading athletics administrators, serving on several NCAA committees while overseeing an athletics program that built dynasties in football and men’s and women’s basketball.
Casem left Alcorn in 1986 to assume the role of director of athletics at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., a position he held for 13 years, which included three seasons as head football coach. While at Southern, he led the resurgence of the Jaguars athletics program into a powerhouse program in the conference.
He retired in 1999 and has been enshrined in several halls of fame — including the Alcorn State Sports Hall of Fame, Southern Athletics Hall of Fame, SWAC Hall of Fame, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame, Black College Football Hall of Fame, and the National Association of Collegiate Director of America Hall of Fame.
The football stadium at Alcorn bears his name – the Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.
Casem died April 25, 2020, in Baton Rouge at the age of 85.