GRAMBLING (AP) — Percy "Chico" Caldwell is used to overcoming obstacles.
Growing up in Clarksville, Miss., he was oftentimes told that he wouldn't succeed in athletics or make good grades.
But Caldwell proved the naysayers wrong, becoming an outstanding basketball player at Miles College, later to be inducted into a Hall of Fame in the West Virginia Conference, and compiling impressive grades in the classroom.
"My dad was a chemistry professor and he wondered if student-athletes could achieve a 3.0 grade point average," Caldwell recalled. "I had a 3.5 GPA. And I also got my doctorate's degree, which my father never did and which I took some delight in reminding him."
Caldwell, 62, added another impressive line to his resume Wednesday when he was officially introduced as the new athletics director at Grambling State University. His annual salary will be $125,000.
Grambling President Frank Pogue said Caldwell was chosen from a pool of seven finalists.
"We were seeking a higher education administrator who just happens to be an athletics director," Pogue said. "We feel very confident that, with this hiring, that Grambling is moving in the right direction for restoring the historic role of athletics that the university has always had."
Asked his reaction to being selected to guide a program that has 15 sports in the men's and women's divisions of the NCAA and Southwestern Athletic Conference, Caldwell answered: "Well, once I got off of the floor, I was thrilled. The first thing I thought about was Eddie Robinson and remembering back to the days when he would bring his Grambling football team through the Clarksville area to play Mississippi Industrial Institute and Rusk College. During my four years in high school, I wouldn't miss a game whenever Grambling came into the area. Now to think I have been selected the athletics director at such a great and well-known institution is a tremendous honor."
Caldwell arrives at Grambling after serving as athletics director at Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Ga., for two years. He held the same position at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina from 2001-2008.
"Grambling State University, without a doubt, has a great athletics' legacy," Caldwell said. "We want to build on its tremendous past and also start a new beginning. When an athletics director cares about the success of his school, then the student-athletes will care. I care about the success of Grambling State and this is our new beginning."