Jackson State fires Rick Comegy

JACKSON, Miss. -- Coach Rick Comegy, who led Jackson State to an 8-1 record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference this season, was fired Wednesday, the school said.

Comegy had a 55-35 record in eight seasons and led the Tigers to the 2007 SWAC title.

Jackson State was 8-4 overall this season. The Tigers lost to Southern in the SWAC championship game, 34-27, in double overtime.

University spokesman Eric Stringfellow said during a Wednesday press conference that the decision to fire Comegy wasn't completely based on his record, but a combination of factors.

The football program has had academic issues in the past, failing to meet the NCAA's APR standards. Those numbers have improved during recent seasons.

Stringfellow said the next JSU coach would "recruit local" and players would also have "discipline as part of their DNA."

"This isn't just about wins and losses," Stringfellow said. "If you've done your homework, you can see that coach Comegy has had some success. This is about the direction of the program and about our student-athletes, putting them in position to be successful."

Stringfellow said Comegy will be paid a $50,000 buyout. Assistant coach Antonio Knight, who is also the recruiting coordinator, will lead the program while the university searches for a new coach.

Stringfellow said the rest of Comegy's staff will be released after their contracts expire on Dec. 31, but could be re-hired by the new coach.

Jackson State's athletic budget is expected to be $6.5 million this year, which ranks 7th out of the 10 SWAC schools. Comegy made just under $200,000 per season.

The school's budget took a hit when Grambling's football players refused to travel to Jackson State for a football game in October because of issues with Grambling coaches and administration. The game was ruled a forfeit and Jackson State had to refund all ticket sales.

But Stringfellow said that didn't affect the decision to fire Comegy.

"The Grambling game had nothing to do with this," Stringfellow said. "This was not driven by budget. We're going to be competitive in terms of going after the next coach and going to pay what we think is fair and what the university can afford."

Jackson State athletic director Vivian L. Fuller said in a statement the school is "grateful to Coach Comegy and his staff for their service to Jackson State. We appreciate the work he has done with JSU athletics and we wish him well."