ATLANTA, GA (WLBT) - Becoming commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference is a dream come true for a Jackson native who grew up attending Jackson State games.
“Growing up in that environment, one day thinking ‘I just want to be a part of that. I just want to be a part of something special,’” Dr. Charles McClelland told WLBT in an exclusive interview. “And you fast forward 15-20 years later, here I am commissioner, it’s still a dream and I haven’t woken up from that dream.”
McClelland is a 1989 graduate of Callaway High School.
“The one thing that I am extremely clear about growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson State is very, very important not only to the city but the state,” said McClelland. “A strong Jackson State means a strong economy in Jackson, and it also means a strong Southwestern Athletic Conference. So we’re going to do everything that we can to assist Jackson State to achieve their goals.”
McClelland also discussed the future of the SWAC Championship Game. The league announced it was forced to move the game from Birmingham’s Legion Field due to a potential scheduling conflict to an on-campus location. Alcorn State hosted the SWAC Championship Game on December 1st, and McClelland called it a success. So much so, the future of the league title game may be in on-campus locations.
“Alcorn just proved the point that we can put 25-26,000 people in one place and have a quality championship game,” said McClelland, whose parents both graduated from Alcorn State. “We still have formulize what we’re going to do, but Alcorn made a very strong, loud suggestion that it should be on campus.”
McLelland also told WLBT the SWAC’s planning a 100-year anniversary in 2019, with an all-star gala featuring some of the league’s greatest athletes as a fundraiser.