By The Associated Press
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. — Gardner-Webb hired Mississippi assistant Ron Dickerson Jr. on Wednesday to run the struggling Runnin’ Bulldogs’ football program.
The 39-year-old Dickerson replaces coach Steve Patton, who was fired last month after 14 seasons.
Dickerson has spent the past three years as receivers coach under Houston Nutt at Ole Miss, where he helped develop NFL receivers Mike Wallace, Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge.
“This search led us to the right man to direct our program,” Gardner-Webb athletic director Chuck Burch said in a statement. “Ron has an excellent reputation for grooming young men into leaders on and off the field.”
Dickerson, who starred as a receiver at Arkansas and played briefly with the Kansas City Chiefs, becomes the first black head football coach in Big South history. His father, Ron Dickerson Sr., was the first black major college head coach at Temple in the 1990s.
“Ron Dickerson, Jr., is a tremendous fit for this university and community,” Gardner-Webb president Frank Bonner said. “His charisma, commitment to spiritual development and excellent track record as an assistant coach on the highest level of college football provided clear proof of Coach Dickerson as the quintessential leader for the student-athletes involved in our football program.”
Dickerson takes over a program that went 4-7 last season and 2-4 in the Big South.
“To have the opportunity to become a part of such a great university and community is truly a blessing,” Dickerson said. “Our teams will play fast, physical and with energy and intelligence on the field. Our young men will also handle themselves properly off it.”