ORANGEBURG, S.C. (December 8, 2023) – South Carolina State University President Alexander Conyers has announced the employment of a new athletics director and head football coach.

SC State alumnus Dr. Nathan Cochran will lead the Department of Athletics as athletics director, and Chennis Berry will join the Bulldogs as head football coach.

“I am very excited to welcome these two high-caliber leaders to the SC State team,” Conyers said. “They both bring the right blend of experience, skill, passion, character and conviction to lead our students to great things on the field and in life.”

Both men will succeed iconic Coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough in their positions. Pough retired as head football coach at the end of this year’s season after 22 seasons at the helm. With 151 wins, he is the winningest head football coach in SC State history. He has served as interim athletics director since early November.

“Go Bulldogs,” Berry said. “My family and I are super excited to be joining the SC State Bulldog family. The proud history, tradition and commitment to excellence both on and off the field are the driving forces to our excitement! It’s a great day to be a Bulldog.”

“I am extremely pleased to be selected to serve my alma mater,” Cochran said. “I look forward to the long-awaited return home.”

About Chennis Berry
Berry is no stranger to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He arrives at SC State from the head coaching position at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, where in three seasons he amassed a 27–7 record, going undefeated in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference the last two seasons. He previously held assistant coaching positions at Morris Brown, Kentucky State, Fort Valley State, North Carolina A&T, Morgan State, Howard and Southern.

Berry earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Savannah State University. As a player at Savannah State, he earned First Team All-SIAC at offensive tackle and was named Black College All-American Honorable Mention in 1994. He also served as Savannah State’s team captain. He later earned his master’s degree in public administration from Kentucky State.

As part of the NFL’s Minority Internship Program, Berry has interned with six different NFL teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears.

“We are excited about Coach Berry not just because of his ability to change the outcome of football games but also for his ability to change young men’s lives,” Conyers said. “We are excited about his ability to motivate and inspire not just the football team but across the entire campus.”

About Dr. Nathan Cochran
Cochran’s career spans 20 years as a collegiate administrator and a football and track and field coach with nearly half of his experience with HBCUs. He arrives from Walsh University in Canton, Ohio, where he has served as athletics director and vice president for athletics since February of this year.

He arrived at Walsh from Xavier University of Louisiana, where he served as Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation. In that role, he oversaw 14 sports, the university recreation department and club sports.

A Colorado native, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from SC State in 2000, having played football for legendary head football Coach Willie Jeffries as a transfer student from Air Force Academy.
Cochran completed his master’s degree in management from Webster University in 2003 and his doctorate in adult and higher education from Morehead State University in 2023.

“As a former Bulldog student-athlete, Dr. Cochran can hit the ground running here at South Carolina State University,” Conyers said. “It is a great honor to welcome this loyal son back to the institution that shaped his future.”


About South Carolina State University
Founded in 1896 as a land grant institution with a mission of providing service to the citizens of the state, South Carolina State University has evolved from a small teachers’ college into a major University center of learning and research. Located in Orangeburg, S.C., South Carolina State offers more than 50 different fields of study on the undergraduate and graduate levels. South Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools.