LORMAN, Miss. – One of the most iconic figures in the history of Alcorn State and Southern University athletics, Marino Casem passed away in his home Saturday afternoon (April 26) at the age of 85.
Known as "The Godfather", Casem was the head football coach at Alcorn for 22 seasons and served as director of athletics for 20 years. He's the winningest football coach in the history of Alcorn athletics, amassing a record of 132-65-8 from 1964-1985.
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Casem graduated from Xavier University in 1956 and embarked on career as a coach and athletics director. He spent one season as head coach at Alabama State in 1963, then moved on to Alcorn.
During his coaching tenure, Alcorn won seven SWAC football championships and Casem was named SWAC Coach of the Year seven times. He also coached the Braves to four Black National Titles in 1967, 1968, 1973 and 1984.
As an athletics director, Casem led the effort in building the Davey L. Whitney Complex, the home to the Alcorn basketball and volleyball programs. It opened in 1975.
Alcorn plays its home football games in a stadium named in his honor, Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium. Casem first arrived at Alcorn as an assistant coach in 1959, along with Spinks, and the two were close friends.
He moved to Southern University in 1987, serving as athletics director from 1986-99 — a stretch that also included two stints as football coach, from 1987-88 and again in 1992. Casem worked the sideline that year, bridging the gap between his dismissal of Gerald Kimble in late 1991 and his hiring of Pete Richardson in late 1992.
From there, Southern rose to nearly unprecedented heights. With Casem as his A.D., Richardson built a resurgent, dominant program, winning four SWAC titles in 1993, '97, '98 and '99 (the Jaguars won a fifth SWAC title under Richardson in 2003, after Casem retired).
Southern also continued as a perennial contender in men's basketball and baseball, and in Casem's tenure, SU won six of the first seven SWAC Commissioner's Cups, given annually to the most accomplished athletic department in the conference.
Casem was named to the SWAC Hall of Fame in 1992, Alcorn Hall of Fame in 1993, College Football Hall of Fame in 1998 and Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.