Courtesy of the Southwestern Athletic Conference
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference has announced its 2023 SWAC Hall of Fame Class which is set to be enshrined on Friday, December 15th, 2023. The enshrinement ceremony is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m. EST at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.
The newest members of the SWAC Hall of Fame were chosen from a list of nominees who were submitted by their respective institutions and selected by the SWAC Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
The 2023 Hall of Fame Honorees includes Mississippi Valley State’s Ashley Ambrose, Grambling State’s Marie Currie, Alcorn State’s Issiac Holt and Charles McClelland Sr.- Legend, Jackson State’s Gloster Van Richardson- Legend, and Texas Southern’s Eddie Davis- Contributor.
While attending Mississippi Valley State, Ambrose became one of the most electrifying performers in NCAA history. He attacked opposing teams as a defender, a punt returner, a kickoff returner and was always a threat to return a kick, punt return or an interception for a touchdown.
Ambrose proved early that he was a shutdown cornerback during the 1989 season when his five interceptions helped MVSU lead the NCAA with 25 total interceptions. In 1989, Ambrose’s 12 tackles helped Mississippi Valley State set an NCAA record in kick-off coverage allowing only 526 total yards for the season.
During the 1990 season Ambrose proved that he was electric with the ball in his hands. In an epic 38-20 upset victory over Grambling State he returned six kicks for 220 yards a 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Ambrose would maintain this momentum into the 1991 season when he helped catapult MVSU to the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA FCS poll after Mississippi Valley State (5-0) defeated Jackson State in a thriller at the Magnolia Bowl Classic.
Ambrose would be selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player. During that same season he helped MVSU lead the NCAA in punt return yard average. In 1990 Ambrose would win individual honors as the NCAA statistical champion in punt return yard average (17.7).
He would go on to a brilliant career in the NFL after the Indianapolis Colts selected him in the 2nd Round (29th overall pick). Ambrose enjoyed 13 stellar years with the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ambrose’s best season came with the Bengals during the 1996 season when his eight interceptions landed him on the Associated Press All-Pro Team. He was later selected by his peers as a Pro Bowl starter and was also selected as the NFL Alumni AFC Defensive Back of the Year.
Currie was an integral part of the Grambling State women’s basketball team from 1983-87. She finished her career at Grambling with 2,256 points and 906 rebounds, averaging 20.7 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game over four seasons.
A prolific shooter, Currie once scored 52 points in a single game for Grambling State. She would become the first female player to score more than 2,000 points in a career at GSU, averaging 51.9 percent from the field and 74.8 percent from the free throw line.
Currie received several athletic honors during her stellar career including two all-tournament awards, All-SWAC and SWAC Player of the Week honors, and the team’s Most Valuable Player award. She also led the SWAC in rebounding. As a senior, she was named to the Black College Sports Information Directors Association first-Team All-American.
Currie was not only an outstanding basketball player, but also an exceptional student. She majored in computer science, maintained a 3.5 GPA, and received an academic award for her work in the classroom.
During the summers, Currie interned with IBM, in New Mexico, Irving, Texas, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating from Grambling State University in May 1987 she accepted a job with General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas and in 1990 she accepted a job with Unisys.
Currie was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and was just 12 hours away from completing her MBA at Texas Southern University. Sadly, she passed at the age 34 after a battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Holt, a native of Birmingham, Alabama graduated from Carver High School in 1980. He attended Alcorn State University and competed on the football team from 1981-84. He contributed six interceptions, 36 tackles, and one fumble recovery in his debut season.
In 1982 he tallied seven interceptions, 38 tackles, and deflected 10 passes enroute to claiming All-SWAC Honors. The collegiate stand-out tallied six interceptions, 36 tackles along with All-SWAC Honors and NCAA Division FCS All-American Honors.
During the 1984 season he was a member of an Alcorn State team that claimed SWAC and Black College National Championship titles with a 9-0 overall record and a 7-0 record in league play. Holt tallied four consecutive seasons with six or more interceptions and recorded 25 tackles, seven pass deflections and one interception return for a touchdown. He ended his collegiate career with 24 interceptions.
He would go on to compete in the National Football League with the Minnesota Vikings (1985-89), and Dallas Cowboys (1989-93) while concluding his NFL career with 23 interceptions, and seven block punts.
Charles McClelland Sr., Legend
McClelland began his collegiate career at Alcorn State in 1960 majoring in Health and Physical Education. For the duration of his enrollment at Alcorn State, he lettered four consecutive seasons in the sports of Basketball and Track and Field.
McClelland served as a key contributor for Alcorn State on the hardwood, most notably playing in 44 games from 1960-62 while tallying 168 field goals, 415 points and 122 rebounds. He alternated between the guard and forward positions in basketball while also excelling in track and field as a high jumper.
His academic and athletic career at Alcorn was the springboard to an exceptional career in the fields of Education and Administration. McClelland’s professional career began upon graduating from Alcorn when he accepted the position of Athletic Director, Basketball Coach and Science Teacher at East Side High School in Cleveland, Mississippi.
His tenure at East Side was only the start of his successful career with his accomplishments there including leading his team to the Finals of the first Magnolia High School Activities Association Tournament (1965-66).
He was named Coach of the Year of the Delta Zone of the Big Eight Division Conference (1966) and Coach of the Year of the Delta Division of the Big Eight Conference (1967). His team qualified to participate in the Mississippi State Basketball Tournament in 1968 and won the last State (NFA) Negro Farmers of America Tournament.
McClelland was appointed and served on the Mississippi State Board of Education under Governors Haley Barbour and Phil Bryant. While on the board, He served as Vice Chair from 2008-10, and Chairman from 2010-12.
Gloster Van Richardson, Legend
Richardson graduated from Coleman High School in Greenville, Mississippi, and subsequently attended Jackson State University, where he excelled in football and earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education.
After JSU, Gloster Van Richardson played for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys, earning Super Bowl IV and VI championship rings respectively. He played with the Cleveland Browns before capping a 10-year career and earning numerous accolades.
Richardson was part of The Richardson Brothers Trio (Willie, Gloster, and Thomas) who were the first family to have a Jacksonian Tiger legacy in which three brothers all played in the NFL at the same time.
Beyond football, Richardson was an avid golfer who visited different courses throughout the United States, hitting many holes in one, notching top spots in tournaments and gaining inspiration from Tiger Woods for his ability to persevere through adversity and still rise.
Richardson was also an educator and leader who served as an offensive coach at Mississippi Valley State University with several of his student-athletes becoming NFL Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers. He also became the first football coach for the inaugural football program at Kennedy King College in Chicago and worked in the Chicago Public Schools for more than 25 years.
He made an extraordinary impact in the lives of hundreds of students. Richardson became executive assistant to the first African American president of the Illinois Board of Commissioners in Cook County and worked on the Advisory Council of Intergovernmental Relations before eventually retiring in 2010.
Eddie Davis, Contributor
Davis spent 30-plus years in the SWAC as he joined Texas Southern University as the head athletic equipment manager in 2008 after a 17-year stint at Prairie View A&M in the same capacity.
In addition to his equipment duties Davis played a large role in athletic operations as he was responsible for the set-up and breakdown of athletic events inside the H&PE Arena and off-campus venues where TSU athletic events were played, along with assisting TSU Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Kevin Granger with business operations.
A native of Houston, Davis graduated from Prairie View A&M in 1983 with a degree in physical education. Upon graduation, Davis moved on to the Westland YMCA in Houston and served as the youth director. As the youth director, Davis oversaw teen programs, coordinated field trips and the use of vehicles.
In August 2006, Davis was honored as one of Prairie View A&M’s employees of the year by the Staff Advisory Council.