Prairie View director of athletics Dr. Donald Reed got quite the unpleasant birthday present Tuesday when he learned that he had been fired after two years on the job.
The school announced that Reed was being relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Prairie View president Dr. Ruth Simmons said athletics committee chair John Gardner would serve as interim athletics director while the school conducts a national search to replace Reed.
It was a disappointing turn of events for Reed, who was out celebrating his birthday with his family Tuesday night.
“I don’t really have anything to say other than I’m disappointed that I can’t continue and finish my contract and momentum, especially with the 13 championships that we won the last two years and we are off to a great start with our football team and soccer is playing well, as well as our volleyball,” Reed said to The Defender. “I wanted to keep the momentum that we have created over the last two years going into a third year. However, it didn’t come to fruition. But I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished during my tenure. I’m just very excited about what the next chapter will be for me.”
In a released statement, Simmons pointed to concerns with the way the athletic department was being run under Reed’s leadership as the reason for making the change at this point. Things seemed to come to a head two weeks ago when the football team was delayed several hours on its trip to Alabama State because the charter flight failed to arrive on time.
The Panthers, who lead the SWAC West with 3-0 league record and 3-2 overall record, defeated Alabama State 24-15 during their Sept. 24 showdown.
“For months, I had been hearing about the fact that things were not functioning well in the department, and it was causing severe problems for our athletes,” Dr. Simmons’ statement read. “Culminating two weeks ago when the football team went to Alabama State, they arrived at the airport, and there was no plane to take them to the game. They waited five hours for a plane to come and transport them. Nevertheless, they won the game, and I keep asking how did that happen because they had a horrible experience…We had no choice but to set this on the right course and do this as quickly as possible…I take full responsibility as president. I have to make those decisions when it’s necessary.”
Reed said the late arrival of the charter flight was out of his and the athletic department’s control.
“Of course, I’m the director of athletics, but however, logistics, especially traveling large groups like football teams,” said Reed, who arrived at PV after serving as an assistant athletic director at the University of Buffalo. “Most of us, if not all of us, use the same charter groups. Sometimes there are delays with the planes based on where they are going first, what teams get dropped off when, and the like. The same with there is a bus shortage and flights all over the country, especially during football season with charter flights and charter companies. It hasn’t happened before.
“With the other places I’ve been, we’ve had delays and all of the places like Buffalo, Iowa State and Arizona State … sometimes there are delays, just like flying commercial, whether it’s flights, planes or buses.”
Reed had presided over the Prairie View athletic department during a time of great success for the football program. The Panthers were the SWAC West Division champs last season and currently sit out front in the division this season.
Football coach Eric Dooley left after last season to take over at Southern. Reed then promoted former Houston Oilers great Bubba McDowell as the new head coach earlier this season. Dooley is set to return to The Hill on Saturday to face his former team and much of his old coaching staff.
Reed, meanwhile, is saying his goodbyes to the athletic program he led the last two years.
“I appreciate the opportunity to work at Prairie View,” said Reed, a native of Port Arthur. “Of course, I would have liked to have finished what I started. We were starting to gain some great momentum in the program, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity to finish what I started.”