Florida A&M’s saga of ineligible football players continued Monday, as disgruntled players wrote a letter to university president Dr. Larry Robinson to express their concerns about the latest decisions and the current state of athletics.
Last Thursday night, the NCAA informed FAMU that it had 26 players uncertified or ineligible, ruling them out for the Week 0 season-opening loss at North Carolina.
The Rattlers’ flight to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Friday was delayed more than six hours as FAMU and the NCAA tried to resolve the issues.
FAMU footballers shared and expressed their frustrations in a five-page letter signed by 88 players. The players said they have been misadvised, underrepresented and underappreciated.
Players also plan to continue taking a knee after the game in protest during the playing of the Florida Song and the FAMU alma mater of the Marching 100 until “significant changes are made that facilitate a positive student-athlete experience.”
The team took a knee in protest following Saturday’s 56-24 loss at UNC.
Players also said that the narrative of ineligible players is incorrect and implies that “we are not performing in the classroom.” The players pointed to the university’s procedural problems within the registrar’s office, the compliance department, and academic advising.
“We have kept these issues within the university structure, but since they have not been adequately resolved, we will forward this statement to the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors,” the letter said.
MORE RATTLER NEWS COVERAGE
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► My thoughts:FAMU made the right decision to play UNC, taking an early look at Jackson State | Thomas
Isaiah Land passes classes, but can’t play
The players claim in the letter that 2021 Buck Buchanan Award winner and Division I sack leader Isaiah Land received the wrong advice for his summer classes.
Registered ground for three two-hour credit classes to get closer to earning your bachelor’s degree. He took and passed the classes, but was deemed ineligible last week, citing that he needed three more hours to be classified as satisfactory in academic progress.
Land tweeted on Sunday that “I can’t wait to get dressed with my boys again, but only in God’s time. To clarify, I am ineligible for a reason beyond my control, but I CAN’T AND WILL NOT BE DENIED.”
The letter stated that FAMU only has one compliance officer who does not have any knowledge or assistance in athletic compliance. With more than 300 student-athletes, the players questioned how a one-person staff could get their job done accurately and quickly.
“It was very damaging to the morale of our football team to read in various media outlets, ’26 FAMU football players declared ineligible,'” the letter said. “The root of this problem is the fact that our Academic Advising and Compliance Officers are understaffed.
“The compliance office consists of one person who has no athletic compliance experience. How can this person be expected to certify over three hundred athletes in a timely manner?”
Players feel they have no voice
FAMU is still conducting final interviews for a new Director of Athletics.
As the university nears a new hire, no student-athletes have been added to the available 18-person search committee. The players mentioned the need for the school to be open-minded by not eliminating candidates who were not previously affiliated with FAMU.
“With regard to the next athletic director, we believe the person selected should have extensive management experience from successful NCAA member institutions, an efficient organizational structure model to address current existing staffing shortfalls, and a proven track record of successful fundraising. “, the letter said. .
“The idea of placing a person in the position because of their ties to FAMU does not appeal to us at all. We need fresh ideas and innovation to achieve the level of excellence that FAMU Athletics is capable of.”
Decrease in the number of tickets
When players make the decision to commit and sign with FAMU, this includes some leaving home for a new location.
Players say the transition has been complicated by the late arrival of financial aid. Players said: “We were reportedly told, ‘It’s a new system and it’s taking longer than usual to go live.'”
The players described these responses in their letter as “completely unacceptable. This delay in funding has repeatedly left us unable to pay for our basic needs.”
Previously, players were credited with four tickets for family and friends to attend.
Just a week ago, players were told that tickets will be reduced to two tickets per player, prompting families planning to attend to buy tickets to the North Carolina game on short notice.
“Our family and support systems should not be overwhelmed in this way,” the letter said.
“The vast majority of them incur hotel and travel expenses, and facilitating game tickets should require minimal effort from our athletic administration.”
Players expressed that their FAMU experience has not lived up to expectations or promises.
“Dr. Robinson, when we signed our letters of intent to become student-athletes at FAMU, we agreed to perform at our best in the classroom, on the field, and in the community,” the letter read.
“How can we realistically be expected to perform at a high level when we worry about having adequate academic resources and whether or not we will have a roof over our heads and food for our bodies?”
In a statement issued by the university on Saturday morning, President Robinson promised changes.
“Issues raised by these young people will get our full time and attention and will be prioritized by our newly established Athletics Support Committee, which includes administrators and staff from across the college community. Leadership Team Meetings We will see progress.
►Read the full letter here
Gerald Thomas III covers FAMU athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @3peatgee.
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