When Roman Banks set out to find a replacement for legendary Southern baseball coach Roger Cador two months ago, he put together a list of criteria for what the program needed. At the top of the athletic director’s list was landing a coach who could revitalize the team and lead it out from under NCAA sanctions and back to national relevance.
On Tuesday, Banks said the man he thinks is the best fit is Kerrick Jackson, a first-time head coach with no ties to Southern who was last an assistant coach at Missouri before serving as an agent for the past two years.
Jackson did not hold back at his debut news conference, saying his expectation for the program is winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship on a regular basis again.
“The one thing I think we can all look to, and I want our players to understand, is Jaguar pride,” Jackson said. “You’ll hear that over and over and over again. It’s very simple. I believe it’s personal responsibility and delivering excellence.”
Jackson’s biggest hurdle is the lingering cloud of NCAA sanctions. Given unsatisfactory Academic Progress Rates, Southern remains under the NCAA’s thumb, which means Jackson will not have a full practice schedule, nor the full use of scholarships. The Jaguars will be ineligible for the postseason for at least his first season.
Jackson and Banks said the new skipper is fully aware of the situation and that Jackson has a plan to turn the program around. While an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Missouri, Jackson was part of a program that twice topped the Southeastern Conference in APR.
“I assured (Banks) that APR won’t ever be an issue for baseball as long as I’m here,” Jackson said. “Our guys are going to understand when we start talking to them from a recruiting standpoint, you’re here to go to school. You’re here to get a degree. If you’re here to play baseball only, don’t come. This isn’t a baseball factory. This is an institution of academic learning, and that has to be your focus.”
Banks said having a coach who understands the NCAA’s rules and regulations was the most important issue he faced in his first high-profile hire as full-time athletic director.
Even though Jackson has never held a head coaching position, Banks said Jackson’s experience as a recruiting coordinator gave him confidence in his ability to navigate the complexities of college athletics.
Jackson’s contract was not finalized with the Southern University Board of Supervisors as of Tuesday, but the deal will be for two years with an option after that.
“This hiring wasn’t on a level playing field,” Banks said. “All that we’ve gone through with baseball as it relates to the NCAA, there’s a piece that’s called corrective actions that, as athletic director, I have to be responsible for. That legislation governs the expectations of what the new baseball program looks like. Going on those principles, we couldn’t come in and say, ‘Here’s the job; now take it to a new level.’ We had to identify a candidate that had a lot of qualities, foremost in athletic compliance.”
Jackson praised Cador, saying he would not be at Southern if it weren’t for Cador’s success — not only for the Jaguars but for HBCUs and college baseball as a whole. Cador — now director of athletics advancement, a new position that takes advantage of his fundraising and people skills — was not at Tuesday’s news conference, citing a fundraising meeting taking place at the same time.
Courtesy of The Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate