"When Jackie came here, Mississippi State fans became accustomed to winning. When he came here in 1991, he inherited a program that had one winning season in nine years. His greatest contribution to our university has been to raise expectations, and that legacy is going to serve up well looking toward the future.
"More that 100 of his players have gone on to play professional football. But, more importantly, 80 percent have received their degree. During his time at MSU, our football team has compiled one of the nation's most outstanding player graduation rates.
"Coach Sherrill's concern for others, and for young people in particular, extends beyond the football field. He has quietly, for many years, given his support to causes including the Leukemia Society of Pittsburgh, The Boys Club, the Shriners Children's Hospital of Houston, the Boy Scouts, and the Palmer Home for Children (in Columbus, MS.).
"It is that concern for others - for his players and for all MSU students, alumni, and fans - that has led Coach Sherrill to his decision at this time.
"His determination to do what is best for Mississippi State is an indication of his character and courage-it is a mark of a winner.
"The entire Mississippi State family joins in wishing all the best in the future to Coach Sherrill and Peggy and all of their family.
"Coach Sherrill's announcement at this time gives us a chance to have a deliberate approach in finding his successor. While our most immediate concern is obviously the welfare of our student-athletes on this present team, we want to be thorough in identifying candidates to have a potential to build on the base that Coach Sherrill has established. While I will be responsible for recommending the appropriate individual to our board, Athletic Director (Larry) Templeton and I will have an advisory committee to assist us. The committee will include:
1. Dr. Kirk Arnett, chair of the Athletic Council and our Faculty Representative.
2. Mr. Juan McCullough, vice-president of the MSU Student Association.
3. Mr. Gary Blair, president of the MSU Alumni Association.
4. Mr. Hal Parker, president of the Bulldog Club.
5. Mr. Mickey Holliman, president of the MSU Foundation.
6. Mr. Rod Moore, incoming president of the MSU Foundation.
7. Mr. Glen Young, an instructor at MSU and a former football player.
8. Dr. Melvin Ray, special assistant to the president.
"Larry Templeton will serve as an advisor to the group, and I will be the chair. In making our selection, we will be seeking an individual who:
1. Has the technical and professional skills to be competitive.
2. Has a demonstrated commitment to the total welfare of the student-athlete, including their graduation.
3. The individual needs to be a full participant in the university community and will represent the university in a positive way.
4. Has an unblemished record of integrity and character.
"While we welcome nominations from all interested parties, we believe it is appropriate to maintain confidentiality concerning those who may be under consideration, lest we unintentionally damage the existing relationships of any potential candidates. We will, however, make an effort to keep the university community and the public informed of our progress."
Q and A with Dr. Lee:
Do you have a timetable as to when you would like to have the coach hired?
"Just as soon after the end of the season as possible."
Does the unblemished record relate to NCAA dealings?
"We will have solid background checks on every candidate that we consider. The NCAA does not normally share that kind of information about individuals."
Is there an update on the NCAA investigation?
"Indications are they are nearing some end to their investigation. That is as much as we know, therefore, as much as we can say today."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.