Photo by JSU/Charles A. Smith
Jackson State University is hoping that Ashley Robinson, the school's new vice president and athletic director, will repeat the success he earned while at Prairie View A&M University.
Robinson, who will start at JSU on July 1, oversaw major gains for the Prairie View Panthers' athletic department since becoming director of athletics in 2013 and then vice president and athletic director three years later.
The Prairie View men's golf team won its first SWAC title in 40 years, the men's track team won its first conference title in 10 years, and the softball team won its first SWAC title in 20 years. Overall, six of the university's squads won titles during Robinson's tenure.
Off the field, the Panthers upgraded multiple athletic venues. Prairie View built a new track and field complex, which the U.S. Olympics team used as its final training stop before the 2016 Rio Olympics. It will also serve as the location for the SWAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships from 2018 to 2020.
Under Robinson, the Panthers opened a new football stadium and a new soccer venue, which has allowed the university to host the conference tournament from 2016 to 2018. Prairie View also made upgrades to the tennis courts and its baseball and softball facilities.
However, the new three-story athletic complex is arguably the crown jewel of the university's upgrades. The building serves as the base of all Panther athletics. It includes offices for coaches and administrators, an athletic training room and rehabilitation facility, a weight room, classrooms for team meetings, and academic labs.
The investments in academic support and labs have seemingly led to a major improvement in the university's academic progress rate. In 2010, PVAM had 11 sports that fell under the NCAA's required APR score of 930. This year, all 18 university-sponsored sports are at or above the mark, with seven teams posting a perfect score of 1,000. Robinson started the Athletic Director's Club, and worked to improve the membership each year. He also worked to boost season-ticket sales, increase corporate partnerships, and strengthen university exposure and branding. He led the school to start the new PVAMU Sports Network, a web service that streams audio and video of athletic games and provides live stats, among other features.
His new role at JSU opens the door for a homecoming for Robinson, who was a basketball star at Murrah High School before playing at Mississippi Valley State University.
A four-year letter winner, he left the Delta Devils as the all-time leader in season and career assists. In 2002, he was the university's Athlete of the Year and a president scholar. MVSU inducted him into its hall of fame in 2011.
Robinson's first job in college athletics was at Delaware State, where he served as the academic coordinator from 2006 to 2007 before leaving to become the assistant compliance director at Jackson State in 2007.
In 2008, he accepted a position as the assistant commissioner of compliance for the SWAC and then switched roles again, making his first stop at Prairie View from 2009 to 2012 as assistant vice president of athletic compliance and academic advising.
He returned to MVSU in 2012 to serve as athletic director for the Delta Devils left for the same position at Prairie View after nine months.
Robinson currently serves as the chair of the SWAC Athletic Director's Committee. Later this summer, he will also assume his duties as third vice president of Football Championship Subdivision Advisory Committee.