Jackson State athletic director Ashley Robinson.
Jackson State athletic director Ashley Robinson sent shockwaves across the college football landscape when he hired NFL Hall of Famer Deion "Prime Time" Sanders as a first-time head coach in 2021. Credit: Associated Press

Prairie View A&M’s search for a new athletic director could be concluding with a familiar face returning to The Hill to lead the Panthers’ athletic department.

According to HBCU GameDay, Prairie View is nearing a deal to hire Jackson State athletic director Ashley Robinson. That would mean a return for the Jackson, Miss. native, who served as PVAMU’s athletic director from 2013-18.

Prairie View officials had no comment on the search or if Robinson has indeed been hired. When The Defender contacted Jackson State, the spokesperson said Robinson is still employed at JSU, but would not comment further.

Sources, however, confirmed that Robinson has interviewed with Prairie View and an offer has been extended. But no agreement has been confirmed.

Prairie View is looking to replace former athletic director Donald Simmons, who was fired by former President Ruth Simmons. John Gardner is currently serving as Prairie View’s interim athletic director.

The hiring of Robinson would represent a bold move by Prairie View after the job Robinson has done at SWAC rival Jackson State for the last five years. Robinson has made some impressive moves, top among them hiring Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as the school’s football coach in the Fall of 2020. Sander’s teams dominated the SWAC during his two-year tenure before leaving for a Power 5 head coaching job at Colorado.

Robinson also hired former NBA All-Star Mo Williams as the head coach of the men’s basketball team and Tomekia Reed to lead the women’s basketball team.

His bold hires have paid off with JSU athletics winning 17 championships during his tenure, which included undefeated conference seasons for men’s basketball (2021), baseball (2021), football (2021) and women’s basketball (2022). The Tigers won SWAC Championships this past year in football, men’s cross country, women’s basketball and women’s soccer.

Along the way, JSU student-athletes posted a 3.101-grade point average during the fall semester and graduated nearly 70 student-athletes during the 2022-23 school year.

Robinson also left a strong mark at Prairie View prior to leaving. He hired both Willie Simmons and Eric Dooley as football coaches during his tenure. Simmons is now leading Florida A&M and Dooley took the helm at Southern after leading the Panthers to the SWAC West title in 2021.

Robinson also implemented the Athletic Director’s Club while at Prairie View and season ticket sales increased annually. Also under his watch, PVAMU built its football-only stadium and athletics administration, track and field complex, soccer field and upgrades were made to the baseball and softball facilities.

I've been with The Defender since August 2019. I'm a long-time sportswriter who has covered everything from college sports to the Texans and Rockets during my 16 years of living in the Houston market....