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By Mike Potter, NCCU Eagles Insider

Henry Frazier III said that above all it was one person who convinced him to leave behind a good situation at Prairie View A&M and become the new head football coach at North Carolina Central University.

“Even though (Chancellor) Dr. (Charlie) Nelms and the board of trustees approved this appointment, I’m here because of one person and that person is (Athletics Director) Dr. (Ingrid) Wicker-McCree,” said Frazier, who will take over after going 43-30 in seven seasons at a school that not too long ago was considered the doormat of Division I football. “She is a relentless recruiter. I had no plans on leaving, but she recruited me from my past employer and did an excellent job.nccu_wicker-mccree_frazierWicker-McCree (L) and Frazier talk following his introductory press conference

"In my opinion, she is a future star in the field of athletic administration and I am so excited to work with her hand-in-hand to bring this football program back to where it once was."

Wicker-McCree announced on Thursday that the former Bowie State quarterback and Bulldog head coach would be the Eagles’ new coach, after Chancellor Nelms said he would “break tradition” and step away from the podium at the Emma Marable Conference Room in the William Jones Building to let the A.D. introduce the new coach.

“Chancellor Nelms stressed that the new coach must have integrity, understand the importance of academic success, must be a winner and understand institutional control,” Wicker-McCree said. “In short, our new coach must embrace these three goals: graduation success, win more than you lose and run a clean program.

“In addition to the chancellor’s charge, I asked the (search) committee to strongly consider a new coach who would possess and demonstrate the following: expert knowledge of the game, someone who has lots of energy who will provide excitement and will engage with our university, alumni and community, and someone who will empower his students and staff to strive for excellence.”

Frazier, 42, has been in this position twice at the college level, assuming the reins of a once-great program at Prairie View that had fallen onto hard times after taking over a Bowie State program with a long habit of losing, and he turned both into winners.

Frazier, who as quarterback had led BSU out of almost literally nowhere to its first NCAA Division II playoff berth in 1988 and first CIAA title in 1989, turned around a program at Central High in Capitol Heights, Md., before returning to his alma mater as head coach and leading it to a 26-24 mark in five seasons.

He then took over the helm of a floundering program in the SWAC, and has led the Panthers to four straight winning seasons, including a 9-1 record and the SWAC title in 2009.

“One of the high points for me was when we won that SWAC championship and we hadn’t won it since 1964,” Frazier explained. “My wife (the former LaNier Turner) and I looked at the first news article that was written when I accepted the job at Prairie View, and saw we did exactly what we said we were going to do when we came to Texas. She looked at me and said, ‘Let’s go (to NCCU.)’

“Winning that (SWAC) championship and watching those alums crying was something else. We left 17 starters at Bowie State when we went to Prairie View, and people said I was going to the graveyard of coaches. When you do what you say you’re going to do and how you said you were going to do it, you’re a man of integrity.”

Wicker-McCree said the decision was an easy one for her and the committee.

“I didn’t know him (personally) at all,” Wicker-McCree said. “I liked his success and his records and what he’s done in building programs, and the challenge that he’s not afraid of anything. To go from where he was at Bowie to the worst (program) in the country says a lot about him as a coach.”

And she said a call from an NCCU alumnus put her on the right track.

“He formally applied like all the other 60 applicants, but it was not hard to convince me he should be our candidate,” she explained. “If I didn’t think what we have would entice him, I would not have pursued him. I knew if I could just get him here and let him see the growth and the infrastructure that we could get him here. We have 64 people on our staff, and that’s pretty special.”

Frazier said he’s into long-term planning and checking off goals as he meets them.

“I have a five-year plan,” he said. “Phase One, one to two years we want to have a winning season and develop pride and confidence. In Phase Two, from two to three years we want to win a conference championship. We want to become strong, physical and fast and be extremely aggressive. In Phase Three, we’re going to win playoff games and compete for a national championship.

“I asked Dr. Wicker-McCree one question: Do you want to win a MEAC championship or do you want to win a national (NCAA Division I-FCS) championship? And she said ‘I want to win a national championship.’ When she said that, you had me then.

“And also we want to be a top 10 team in the country, we want our APR (Academic Progress Rate) to be 940 and above, and we want our graduation rate to be 75 percent and above.”


NCCU Eagles Insider Mike Potter is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience covering North Carolina Central University.

 

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