FAMU football players tell the president why they are kneeling

Florida A&M’s saga of ineligible football players continued Monday when 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, FAMU was notified by the NCAA that it had 26 ineligible or ineligible players, 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 for more than six hours as FAMU and the NCAA tried to resolve the issues.

FAMU football players shared and expressed their frustration in a five-page letter signed by 89 players. Players said they have been ill-advised, under-represented and under-appreciated.

The players also plan to continue kneeling after the game in protest during the Marching 100’s playing the Florida Song and the FAMU alma mater until “significant changes are made that facilitate a positive student-athlete experience.”

The team knelt in protest after Saturday’s 56-24 loss at UNC.

The players also said the narrative of inappropriate players is wrong and implies that “we don’t play class”. Players pointed out university procedural issues within the registrar’s office, compliance department and academic advising.

“We have kept these issues within the university structure, but because they have not been adequately resolved, we will share this statement with the Board of Trustees and the Board of Trustees,” the letter said.

MORE RATTLERNEWS COVERAGE

► Stay positive: Willie Simmons optimistic FAMU football can bring back ineligible or ineligible players

► Vaughn Wilson Speaks: ‘We’re sick of it.’ FAMU alum challenges President Robinson to support athletics, compliance

► My thoughts: FAMU made the right call to play UNC, getting an early look at Jackson State | Thomas

Florida A&M University linebacker Isaiah Land (31) celebrates during fall training camp, Aug. 10, 2022

Florida A&M University linebacker Isaiah Land (31) celebrates during fall training camp, Aug. 10, 2022

Isaiah Land passes classes, but can’t play

The players allege in the letter that 2021 Buck Buchanan Award winner and Division I leader Isaiah Land received incorrect advice about his summer classes.

Plot signed up for three two-hour classes to get closer to earning his degree. He attended and passed the classes, but was ruled ineligible last week, saying he needed three more hours to qualify as satisfactory in academic progress.

Lund tweeted on Sunday that “I can’t wait to match up with my guys again, but only in God’s timing. To clarify, I am not eligible for a reason beyond my control, but I CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE REJECTED.”

The letter stated that FAMU has only one compliance officer who has no knowledge or assistance with athletic compliance. With more than 300 student-athletes, the players challenged how a one-man staff could accurately and quickly accomplish their mission.

“It was very damaging to the morale of our football team to read in various media outlets, ’26 FAMU football players ruled ineligible,'” the letter said. “At the root of this issue is the fact that Academic Advising and Compliance Officers are understaffed.

“The compliance office consists of one person, who has no expertise in sports compliance. How can this person be expected to certify over three hundred athletes in a timely manner?”

Florida A&M University running back Jaylen McCloud (28) celebrates a touchdown during a game between FAMU and Grambling State University in FAMU's homecoming game at Bragg Memorial Stadium Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Florida A&M University running back Jaylen McCloud (28) celebrates a touchdown during a game between FAMU and Grambling State University for FAMU’s homecoming game at Bragg Memorial Stadium Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Players feel they have no voice

FAMU is still conducting final interviews for a new Director of Athletics.

As the university closes in on new hires, no student-athletes have been added to the 18-person search committee. The players cited the need for the school to keep an open mind by not eliminating applicants who had no prior connection to FAMU.

“With regard to the next athletic director, we believe the individual selected should have extensive administrative experience at successful NCAA member institutions, an effective organizational structure model to address current staffing shortages, and a proven track record of successful concentration money,” the letter said. .

“The idea of ​​putting a person in the position because of 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.”

Florida A&M University wide receiver Xavier Smith (19) runs the ball during a game between Florida A&M University and Fort Valley State University at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Florida A&M University wide receiver Xavier Smith (19) runs the ball during a game between Florida A&M University and Fort Valley State University at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Reduced number of tickets

When players decide to commit and sign with FAMU, that includes some leaving home for a new location.

Players say the transition is complicated by delayed financial aid. Players said “We were allegedly told, ‘It’s a new system and it’s taking longer to post than normal.'”

The players described these responses in their letter as “totally unacceptable. This delay in money 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, the players were told that tickets would be reduced to two tickets per player, which caused families planning to attend to purchase tickets to the North Carolina game on short notice.

“Our family and support systems should not be burdened in this way,” the letter said.

“The vast majority of them are burdened with hotel and travel expenses and facilitating match tickets should require minimal effort from our athletic administration.”

Players said their experience at FAMU did not live 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 peak in the classroom, on the field and in the community,” the letter said.

“How can we realistically be expected to perform at a high level when we are concerned with having adequate academic resources and keeping a roof over our heads and feeding our bodies.”

In a statement released by the university Saturday morning, President Robinson promised change.

“The issues raised by these young people will receive our full attention and be prioritized by the newly formed Athletic Support Committee, which includes administrators and staff from across the University community. Leadership Team Meetings We will see progress.

►Read the entire letter here

Gerald Thomas III covers FAMU athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him by email at gdthomas@gannett.com or on Twitter @3peatgee.

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This article originally appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat: FAMU Football: Players stand up in letter to university president

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