Shula issues apology

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 2004

After a week of talk show and online forum furor, Alabama head football coach Mike

Shula has issued an apology to Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom and announced the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence award will keep the former Tide player and coach’s name.

“We would like to publicly apologize to Sylvester Croom and his family for changing the name of one of our spring awards,” Shula said in a statement released this afternoon from the University of Alabama media relations office. “I have personally spoken to Sylvester (Sunday night) and told him there was no disrespect intended toward him, and that there was no intention whatsoever to take away from the importance or prestige of the spring award named in his honor.”

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The statement also noted that a new award will be instituted in honor of former Crimson Tide quarterback Bart Starr, whose name briefly graced the Croom award.

“The Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award, begun by Bill Curry in 1987, will be restored to its original name and we will institute another spring honor, the Bart Starr Most Improved Quarterback Award which will be given to Marc Guillon,” Shula said. “Our original intention was to not have an award named after another head coach in the SEC. However, we need to fully recognize and value the deep feelings of all our players about their years and contributions to our great University.”

The controversy over the award reached a peak last week when a Mississippi newspaper ran a story about the name change. Shula was out of town on a Crimson Tide fundraising cruise and was unavailable for comment during most of the brouhaha.