Deion Sanders Donald Hill-Ely
Alabama State

Coach: “shoe” comment not for Deion Sanders, JSU

Alabama State head coach Dr. Donald Hill-Ely raised eyebrows with his statement after handing Deion Sanders his first loss at Jackson State.

There has been a lot of smoke coming out of Montgomery, Alabama since Alabama State handed Jackson State its first loss under Deion Sanders. There was the vintage image of Deion Sanders used on the video board of ASU Stadium. And then there were comments from Dr. Donald Hill-Ely, ASU’s coach at the end of his presser that re-ignited fumes on Sunday via social media. 

“You hear all the hype that was coming out of Jackson,” he said. “We’re just this little small school in Montgomery, we don’t know how to coach in black college and — as I told the players — once they get back to Jackson, let them soak in some Epson salt and send me my shoe back.”


When asked about the comment on Monday, Hill-Ely talked specifically his comment on coaching about coaching. He said the comments had nothing to do with Deion Sanders or the Jackson State team. Instead, he said, they were brought on by a heckler outside his own stadium during the team’s customary “Hornet Walk.” 

“We had a couple of JSU fans heckling us. We don’t have all the security that everybody else has. And, you know, the person was just ‘aww, you guys at HBCUs can’t coach. They can’t coach, they can’t do this…They can’t do that. You guys don’t know how to do that…so that wasn’t intended for Coach Sanders. That was intended for that fan to go take our shoe out his rear end.”

Hill-Eley said he told the players throughout the week that he didn’t want to get involved in a war of words. But he felt what was said was disrespectful and that fans can sometimes go across the line.

“We were men before I was a coach. I was a man before I was a doctor. And I’m still going to be a man even after all those things. I just don’t take a lot of bull. So I wanted to let that person to know, the fact is, for THEM to go back to Jackson.” 

Speaking on the same media session later, Deion Sanders didn’t address Hill-Eley’s comments directly. But he did point out that everything is being magnified at this point. 

“Coaches, they gotta be careful what they say, they gotta be careful how they interact, they gotta be careful of the feedback and the game that they’re spitting to you guys (the media),” he said. “You know why? Because everybody’s watching. Unless you want to stay for the rest of your life. If you want to do that — if you want to stay somewhere for the rest of your life — cool. But if you want your coaching staff, your team, your players, everyone to go to the next level, you gotta watch what you say. Because the lights are on you now.”

Deion Sanders

And even more people will be watching on April 10. The SWAC announced on Monday that the April 10 matchup between Jackson State and Alabama A&M will be televised on ESPN. 

Coach: “shoe” comment not for Deion Sanders, JSU
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