Hollins a staple in sports information
September 22, 2004
By Roosevelt Wilson
Publisher, The Capitol Outlook
Michelle Jinks is the communications director for the Mid-Eastern
Arthur Hightower is the assistant director for professional
development for the NCAA.
What do they have in common? They are both Florida A&M
University graduates and both received their basic training
as student assistants to FAMU sports information director
Alvin Hollins Jr.
Jinks and Hightower are just two of the "graduates" of
the "Hollins School of Sports Information" who
have gone on to make names for themselves in intercollegiate
“Everything I know I learned from Alvin,” Jinks
said. “He taught me everything I know.”
She describes Hollins as “thorough, efficient, creative,
professional, easy to work with and easy to work for.”
Jinks, who worked with Hollins for seven years, first as
a student assistant and then as a full-time assistant handling
women’s sports, credits Hollins with her job with the
MEAC. “What I do here I learned from him,” she
said. “Everybody looks up to him, and it’s about
time he got some recognition for all he has done for FAMU.”
She said Hollins is among the nation’s best and could
be working anywhere, “Even here,” she said, speaking
of the MEAC. “But he chooses to stay at FAMU. He is
one of the best and I still call on him. Just last week I
had to call him because I had forgotten a statistical formula.”
Considering that he spends his office hours crammed in a
9x12 office he has to share with assistant Ronnie Johnson,
computers and a fax machinbe, Hollins sighed when asked why
he is still at FAMU.
“Well,” he said, seeming to search for words, “to
be honest with you, I just fell in love with the place. I
like where I am. I like the FAMU tradition.”
Jinks also praises Hollins for his publications. His media
guides are well done and crammed with information. He anticipates
questions and answers them with the information he provides
in his guides.”
When Hollins became sports information director at FAMU
in 1979, the Rattler athletic program was entering its first
full year in NCAA Division I.
The university’s original application to be reclassified
from Division II to Division I was denied, but after an appeal,
the NCAA approved the reclassification just in time for the
football team, which was reclassified to Division I-AA, to
make the 1978 playoffs.
Under head coach Rudy Hubbard, the Rattlers beat Jackson
State in the semifinal and Massachusetts in the final to
win the first I-AA national championship.
So Hollins showed up to inherit public relations duties
of a growing athletic program that included the defending
national I-AA champion in football.
Football, by the way, is the only sport in Division I that
is subdivided into I-A and I-AA. Everything else is simply
Because Division I required a minimum of 18 sports each
for men’s and women’s programs, by the 1980-81
academic year FAMU had added Herb Reinhard as the women’s
sports information director and he and Hollins formed FAMU’s
first sports information team and began to set the standard
for HBCUs and some non-HBCUs to follow.
While they worked together on major sports like football
and men’s and women’s basketball, Reinhard’s
primary responsibility was for all women’s sports and
Hollins’ was for the men’s.
Reinhard reported to the women’s athletic director
a position now called “primary” or “senior” women’s
administrator — to whom all coaches of women’s
sports also reported.
Hollins reported to the overall athletic director to whom
all men’s coaches and other athletic department staff,
including the women’s athletic director, reported.
Before long, Hollins and Reinhard had separate offices and
each his own staff of assistants.
With the rapid growth and development of the women's program,
Reinhard's duties expanded to marketing. His ultimate goal
was administration, so when the opportunity presented itself,
Reinhard accepted the athletic director's position at Valdosta
State University where he remains today.
Hollins, like many transplants, fell in love with FAMU and
devoted his efforts to continuing and improving the university's
national reputation as a leader in the sports information
But as FAMU's athletic program continued to grow and demands
of a Division I program increased, FAMU started to de-emphasize
When Reinhard left he was not replaced. All of his duties
fell to Hollins who at the time had only student help to
cover 36 men's and women's sports.
He had to try to work miracles. Football, as on most major
college campuses, is the most labor-intensive sport when
it comes to taking care of the needs of the media.
But during football season, men's and women's basketball
But he was not deterred. “While I don’t have
what I need to do what I want to do, Like some of the coaches
I just take on the challenge of taking less and still doing
a superior job,” he said. He quickly added, “It
takes a lot of prayer, but I have been blessed through the
years to have the support of some outstanding people along
Hollins, whose job title (but not job description) has been
changed to assistant athletic director for communications,
started having to assign student assistants to handle the
immediate needs of two coaches who always feel neglected
because of the attention football gets.
But at the same time, Hollins has to produce their media
guides working with a limited budget and try to promote basketball
programs and players as well as other sports.
“Some of the other coaches get on me sometimes,” He
said. “They say I’m neglecting their programs,
but I see that as another challenge. I try to find ways to
provide high quality service and I try to get better. There’s
no need to complain; I just try to make it work,” he
While his efforts might not be recognized and appreciated
locally, they were nationally for years.
In 1990 he received
the Catl Jacox/Champ Clark Award for being Black College
Sports Information Director of the Year. In 1996 he was named
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference SID of the Year; In 1998
he was named SID of the year by the New York Amsterdam News,
and in 2002 he received the American Football Foundation
Elmore "Scoop" Hudgens Sports
In his 25 years at FAMU, working with unbelievably meager
resources, and in a profession that many outside athletics
and some in athletics neither understand nor appreciate,
Hollins has become one of the most respected practitioners
in his field.
He is the closest thing today to the innovative Collie J.
Nicholson, the dean of black college sports information directors
who revolutionized sports information among HBCUs by making
Grambling’s sports information program comparable to
those of Notre Dame, Ohio State and the other bigtime programs
back in the day.
Ed Hill, sports information director at Howard, has known
and worked with Hollins for years.
“Alvin is someone I hope we and the younger professionals
will use as a model,” he said. “He works hard
and accomplishes more with so little.”
Hill says Hollins’ versatility is rare. “He
manages people well, he manages events well. His publications
are first class and his releases are always well written,” he
Hollins got caught in a time warp, having to do more with
less, but found a way to excel anyway.
For example, in 1979 when the University of Central Florida
came to Tallahassee to play FAMU, the Golden Knights had
a sports information staff of one plus student assistants,
the same as Hollins. Today, the UCF SID has four full-time
assistants. Hollins has one. And the difference is not because
UCF is Division I-A in football. The staff had grown as the
program grew in order to provide services to the other sports
as well as the media.
While Hollins has not kept pace personnel wise, his responsibilities
have increased. He is now responsible for both men’s
and women’s sports — a responsibility once shared
by two separate staffs. He also has to maintain a Web site
for the department as well as prepare camera-ready copy for
media guides, send out releases electronically, submit statistics
to the conference and NCAA virtually as the games are being
played in football and basketball.
And all of this is done by Hollins and assistant Ronnie
Johnson. Other than student assistants, they have no clerical
help — no secretary, not even anyone to answer the
But Hollins still excels.
“Anyone who doesn’t appreciate what he has done
and is doing ought to attend one of the meetings of the College
Sports Information Directors of America,” Hill said. “That’ll
help them see what a great job this guy is doing for FAMU.”
© Copyright 2004 Capital Outlook
Reprinted with permission