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story.lead_photo.caption Melvin Hines

PINE BLUFF -- Following Wednesday's ousting of Athletic Director Melvin Hines, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander declined further comment on the matter Thursday via a spokesperson from his office.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette attempted to interview Alexander in person Thursday at his UAPB campus office, but that attempt was turned away. Alexander was in a meeting for most of the day, according to his chief of staff, Janet Broiles, who said the chancellor did not wish to comment any further.

The Democrat-Gazette also attempted to reach out to Hines. Multiple messages were left for him through social media and email, but those were not returned. A request for Hines' personal cell phone number was declined by Broiles.

Also, the Democrat-Gazette submitted a Freedom of Information request to the chancellor's office for the documents pertaining to Hines' firing, but that request had not been granted as of Thursday night.

Contact was made with Marc Williams, who describes Hines as "one of my best friends." Williams is a sports marketing professional who's worked in the industry for 25 years, according to his website. The two follow each other on Twitter, and Hines' most recent timeline activity as of Wednesday night was a retweet of one of Williams' tweets.

"I was invited to be the keynote speaker for his student athletes a few weeks ago," Williams told the Democrat-Gazette in a Twitter direct message. "All of this is shocking."

Upon news of Hines' firing Wednesday night, Williams tweeted, "Oh my.....my stomach is hurting from this. Melvin Hines is my dear friend and I am saddened by this stunning news. I know he is very resilient."

UAPB football Coach Cedric Thomas also declined to comment on Hines' firing and deferred further comment to the chancellor's office, according to a team spokesperson.

Hines, 48, had served as UAPB's athletic director for a little over a year. The school announced Hines' hiring on Sept. 5, 2018, and he began his stint on Sept. 10. Hines -- a former Auburn wide receiver and assistant coach at Louisville and Alabama A&M -- had previously served as the athletic director at Alabama State, but he resigned from there in September 2017.

On Wednesday night, Alexander issued a statement saying that Hines was "no longer with the university." UAPB executive senior associate athletics director Keith McCluney was named the interim athletic director.

"As with all faculty and staff, Mr. Hines participated in an annual evaluation, which revealed that it was time to move in a new direction," Alexander said. "We thank Mr. Hines for his service to UAPB athletics, and we wish him well in his future endeavors. A search for a new athletics director will begin immediately.

"It is critical that UAPB's leadership is in lockstep with the vision for this great university. I want you to know that the changes made today in no way affect our ultimate goal of achieving student success in both athletics and scholarship. We appreciate the strong support of our students, employees, alumni and community friends. We solicit your continued support during this time of transition."

Sports on 09/20/2019

Print Headline: UAPB chief quiet on firing

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