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About a decade ago, Hakim McClellan was fresh off of winning a SWAC title in the 200- meter dash and dreaming of breaking into the business of college athletics.
Robinson, who was MVSU's athletic director at the time, saw McClellan's drive and determination early on.
"He has a vision. He’s very aggressive and he asks a lot of questions," said Robinson, who was named Cushman & Wakefield Athletic Director of the Year on Tuesday. "He has a big vision for what he wants to do. He loves athletics, being a former athlete. His determination, drive, character, and integrity are all huge. He has a very big heart and he loves to see student athletes and coaches be very successful."
Robinson and McClellan stayed in touch after McClellan graduated, and it kicked off a mentorship that helped jump start McClellan's career in working compliance. They worked together at MVSU, Prairie View, and Jackson State.
"He's a mentor, a brother, all the above," McClellan said. "All of that, with the attributes to show how to be a leader. He's given me so much advice, I can't even begin to tell you."
Now, they're set to compete against each other in the SWAC. McClellan was named Athletic Director at Mississippi Valley State last month.
McClellan, who spent seven years as a student at MVSU between his undergrad and master's programs, said he considers Mississippi Valley State a second home. It's where he met his wife and made lifelong friends.
And it's where he learned lessons on the track, the football field, and in the classroom that helped him get to where he is today.
"It means a whole lot to come back to the alma mater," McClellan said. "Not many people are able to do that. I feel like this is the opportunity of a lifetime to elevate Mississippi Valley State. Jerry Rice is a household name and I want Mississippi Valley to be that as well in the state of Mississippi. I want to bring that respect and pride back."
McClellan said his main focuses are to establish a family atmosphere and to raise money to improve facilities at MVSU. He said one of his major strengths, along with his compliance background is his ability to build relationships that will benefit MVSU.
Mississippi Valley State has the second-smallest athletics budget of the 230 schools listed in USA Today's NCAA Finances database with $3,911,542 in total expenses in 2020.
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Still, there's opportunities for relationships to pay off and help the Delta Devils. Jackson State coach Deion Sanders visited the campus during the spring and said he's planning to help MVSU build a new football field.
"If you understand Coach Prime, he's about everybody doing better and elevating," McClellan said. "And that's what I'm truly all about. Anything we do in life, we can't do it alone. Coach Prime doing that video is first class, and that's what Coach (Vincent) Dancy is and that's what my president is, first class."
But ultimately, it's on Mississippi Valley State to help itself first. And much of their new direction will be determined by McClellan's leadership.
"I’ve watched that young man grow for ten years. I’m very excited for him," Robinson said. "I think this is huge for him and Mississippi Valley. I encourage everyone to support him. He’s going to make changes for the better at Mississippi Valley State University."
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Hakim McClellan ready for Mississippi Valley AD job