Donald Hill-Eley, Alabama State
Photo: Alabama State Athletics

Donald Hill-Eley is out at Alabama State after a little more than four seasons as head coach.

“We want to thank coach Eley for his seven years of service and commitment to Alabama State and wish him the best in the future,” athletic director Jason Cable said.

Sources told HBCU Sports that Hill-Eley notified the team Sunday afternoon in a virtual meeting that he would no longer be with the program.

Hill-Eley, who coached in the Hornets’ 42-28 loss to rival Alabama A&M on Saturday, will be replaced by defensive coordinator Travis Pearson, on an interim basis of a team that is 3-4 overall and 2-3 in the SWAC.

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Alabama State has lost three of its last four games, all in the conference, including a fourth-straight loss to the Bulldogs in the Magic City Classic.

The team’s only wins this season have come at the hands of Division II Miles, 0-8 Bethune-Cookman, and 1-win Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Hill-Eley arrived at Alabama State in 2015 as tight ends and special teams coach under then-head coach Brian Jenkins. He then took over for Jenkins who was fired five games into the 2017 season, leading the Hornets to a 5-1 record and second-place finish in the SWAC East.

Overall, he went 20-21 at Alabama State and 17-14 in conference play, finishing in second place on two occasions sandwiched between third and fourth-place results in the East division.

What ultimately befell Hill-Eley was the Hornets’ inability to beat its most common rivals. Alabama State went a combined 6-6 versus Jackson State, Alcorn State, and Alabama A&M, including a 1-4 mark against the Bulldogs.

With four games left in the regular season, Pearson said he “won’t be re-inventing the wheel” as it relates to implementing wholesale changes after taking over for Hill-Eley.

“I met with the team this morning, myself and the coaches and we hashed it out and we talked about what we need to do to this week done and be successful and tell them to get ready to go,” said Pearson Monday.

“We will just take it day by day. We’ve got guys on both sides of the ball and been coaching for a while and understand the dynamics of this game and understand the task we got ahead of us. We’re going to go in and put our heads together and try to get the best plan to help us be successful on Saturday.”

Prior to his tenure at Alabama State, Hill-Eley spent 13 seasons at Morgan State, winning 59 games along with being named MEAC Coach of the Year in 2002.

Hill-Eley spent four seasons as offensive coordinator at Hampton from 1997 to 2000 where the Pirates won two MEAC championships and a Black College National Championship.


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