The dilemma facing HBCU schools and universities in regards to “pay day” games is nothing new. But the story out of FAMU just made the reality of the situation faced by these schools even harsher.
In order to play their Thursday night prime time game against Arkansas, while also trying to save money, FAMU will have to get on their bus the day before and travel 10 hours to Little Rock. After investing in repairs to their bus, Athletic Director Milton Overton Jr., made the decision to drive to the game so they could save money for flights when the conference schedule kicks in. And with a $750,000 check waiting for them in Little Rock, the decision to drive was made easier to fathom.
It comes down to finances, FAMU sports information director Vaughn Wilson said to the Tallahassee Democrat. Just trying to be responsible with the money we have and taking a look at things. Its a stretch, its not something we want to do, but its something we have to do financially for that game.
Our goal is to turn this department into a profitable department. It requires hard, tough decisions. Like I said, its not something we wish to put the kids under, but we make our accommodations around it.
But things got a little testy when word of the bus trip spread around the world of college athletics, and once ESPN’s Jay Bilas got a hold of it, things quickly escalated in the Twittersphere.
Jay Bilas on Twitter
Make no mistake, all players are used to make their schools money. A crazy bus ride to Arkansas…for $750,000. https://t.co/Z6SG9xW7s0
Chris Asa on Twitter
@JayBilas I’m sorry we aren’t a $100 million budget school. If Bama was taking this bus ride you might have a point.
Chris Asa on Twitter
@JayBilas But we ain’t Bama. We ain’t FSU. So try not to use us to drive your narrative.
But the news isn’t all bad for FAMU, as Overton’s plan to restore the University to fiscal health appears to be working. After announcing a 10 percent cut to the school’s budget in May, which was preceded by a 10 percent cut in Overton’s first year as school AD, the school has announced “a year-end surplus for the 2016-17 fiscal year”, which FAMU’s first in almost a decade.