TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida A&M football team, which considered not traveling for its season opener in North Carolina last week, is openly questioning the level of financial support and compliance players receive from the university.
Nearly 90 players wrote a searing letter to school president Larry Robinson on Sunday, a day after the team lost 56-24 to the Tar Hills while playing without 26 ineligible players. FAMU was paid $450,000 to make the trip to Chapel Hill.
The letter implored Robinson for “changes being made now” and said “we are not interested in empty dialogue with you or your staff”. The letter says the players knelt in protest during two school songs played after the game and will continue to do so “until meaningful changes facilitating a positive student-athlete experience are made.” .
FAMU takes on Jackson State in the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami on Sunday, a nationally televised game on ESPN2.
The letter clarifies that the players were deemed ineligible not for their academic performance, but rather due to “procedural issues within the Registrar’s Office, the Compliance Department and the Academic Boards.” FAMU has a compliance and academic advisor for athletics, according to the university.
Among the issues raised in the letter were financial aid not being provided in a timely manner to purchase books, enroll in classes and avoid evictions.
The university responded by saying it is committed to maintaining a culture of compliance and adhering to NCAA guidelines.
“We are confident that our processes are efficient and timely,” the school said Tuesday. “We will continue to monitor our efforts in this regard and pursue all avenues to provide an excellent student experience for every athlete. FAMU is committed to maintaining high standards and strictly adhering to NCAA guidelines.
The letter alleges issues with the “student-athlete experience at FAMU,” which has the second-highest enrollment among historically black colleges or universities in the United States. She also indicates that there is no student-athlete representation on the committee looking for a new athletic director. Former FAMU athletic director Kortne Gosha stepped down in April and has since been hired by Tulane as senior associate athletic director.
Among the players ruled ineligible were linebacker Isaiah Land, the league’s top defenseman in the league last season and a potential 2023 NFL draft prospect, and right tackle Cam Covin. Land and Covin have retained attorney Tom Mars, who is experienced in helping college players resolve NCAA eligibility issues.
“I don’t think anyone in college sports has ever witnessed a bigger mistake by the university or a more unjust punishment aimed at the players – the only people in this mess who did everything right. “, Mars said in a published statement. on Twitter.
“If a parent doesn’t file a tax return, the IRS doesn’t punish their children. But it’s the college sports equivalent of doing just that.
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