Florida A&M University football is under pressure, and the players are unwilling to let their reputations suffer along with the athletic program’s. Last Thursday, FAMU was notified that 26 players were deemed ineligible for the season opener and potentially multiple games. It delayed their charter flight to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for Week 0, billed as an “HBCU Celebration Game,” which they lost.
The players plan to kneel postgame in protest during the Marching 100 band’s performances until “significant changes that facilitate a positive student-athlete experience are made.”
BREAKING: The @FAMU_FB team has written a letter to FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson, addressing the issues within the University structure that have not been adequately resolved. pic.twitter.com/AECyWaZ4S3
— Alison Posey (@AlisonPosey14) August 29, 2022
The Rattlers’ players showed they were disgruntled players. They penned a letter to university President Dr. Larry Robinson expressing their concerns over the NCAA rulings and the area where athletics meets academics.
“We have kept these issues within the university structure, but since they have not been adequately resolved, we will release this statement to the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors,” according to the letter.
In the letter, players claim that Isaiah Land received incorrect advice for his summer classes. The 2021 Buck Buchanan Award winner and Division I sack leader reportedly registered for three two-hour credit classes to get closer to obtaining his bachelor’s degree. However, even after taking and passing the classes, he was ineligible last week, with the NCAA saying he needed three more hours to be classified as satisfactory in academic progress.
“I can’t wait to suit up with my guys again, but only on God’s timing. To clarify, I am ineligible for a reason out of my control, but I CAN’T AND WON’T be denied,” Land tweeted on Sunday.
Well maybe if @FAMU_1887 didn’t runoff athletic director Kortne Goshe, they wouldn’t have had these issues. Constantly changing ADs is problem with the administration and the board. This is another reason why HBCUs can’t build successfully; no continuity in leadership. https://t.co/bVMtbmjRkk
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) August 27, 2022
The letter issued by the team sought to rewrite the narrative that they are not academically sound, which is bleeding into their athletic opportunities.
“It was very damaging to the morale of our football team to read on various media outlets, ’26 FAMU Football Players Ruled Ineligible,'” the letter said. “At the root of this issue is the fact that our Academic Advisement and Compliance Officers are understaffed.
“The compliance office consists of one person, who has no expertise in athletic compliance. How can this person be expected to certify over three hundred athletes in a timely manner?”
According to the letter, players are alleging that FAMU only has one compliance officer with no assistance and that the person lacks knowledge of athletic compliance. FAMU has over 300 student-athletes, and the players poised the question of how one person is able to handle the monumental task.
Update: Noted attorney Tom Mars tells ESPN he has signed documentation that FAMU star Isaiah Land, the best defensive player in the FCS last year, was advised to take the wrong number of courses this summer. That led to his ineligibility and eventual four-game NCAA suspension.1/2 https://t.co/jDtHicdjmn
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 30, 2022
The university responded in a statement defending itself amid the public player scrutiny.
“We are confident that our processes are effective and timely. We will continue to monitor our efforts in this regards and to pursue all avenues to provide an excellent student experience to every athlete.”
Additionally, FAMU does not at present have an athletics director, and the 18-person search committee has reportedly not considered candidates that haven’t been affiliated with FAMU in the past.
A scathing letter signed by 88 members of the Florida A&M Football team sheds more light on the situation at FAMU. https://t.co/Zk2FeIAeFw
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) August 29, 2022
“Concerning the next athletic director, it is our belief that the individual selected should have extensive administrative experience from successful NCAA member institutions, an efficient organizational structure model to address current existing personnel deficits, and a proven track of successful fundraising,” the letter continued.
“The idea of placing a person in the position because of ties to FAMU is not appealing to us at all. We need fresh ideas and innovation to achieve the level of excellence that FAMU Athletics is capable of.”
According to NCAA data released in June, the FAMU football team did not meet the 930 Academic Progress Rate threshold, instead landing at 901, which is the lowest mark in Division I. The university contends that 13 of its 14 sports programs have met the APR requirements” despite rumors and misinformation to the contrary.”