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FAMU football players address issues in letter to FAMU president

Posted at 4:15 PM, Aug 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 14:22:59-04

Update, 8:37 p.m.:

FAMU officials responded to compliance concerns with the following Monday evening:

Consistent with FAMU’s long-standing commitment to maintaining a culture of compliance and conformance with NCAA guidelines, we are justifiably proud of having achieved 13 of our 14 sports programs fully meeting the Academic Progress Rate (APR) requirements per the NCAA’s November 2021 APR Report in spite of rumors and misinformation to the contrary.

Our Compliance Team, which includes partners from Compliance, Athletics, Academic Affairs, and Student Affairs, has been working diligently with Athletics since Fall 2021 to implement plans for the remaining non-compliant program to meet the required APR score and join the others so that 100 percent compliance is achieved.

After the assessments of Spring and Summer 2022 academic progress, the Compliance team exercised its due diligence to complete the certification process on August 11 before the Fall sports season began. These are, as always, tight windows and beginning on August 13 waivers began to be submitted to the NCAA based on feedback from our coaches. The NCAA subsequently issued its decisions on August 24, 25, and 26, 2022.

We are confident that our processes are effective and timely. We will continue to monitor our efforts in this regard and pursue all avenues to provide an excellent student experience to every athlete. FAMU is committed to upholding high standards and rigorous adherence to NCAA guidelines.

Monday, the 2022 Rattler Football Team released a letter addressed to FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson.

The letter, signed by 89 players, addresses several issues the team has with the "student-athlete experience at FAMU."

The letter highlights issues with academic support/compliance and summer school.

Specifically under academic support and compliance, the players point to an article released Friday about 20 FAMU players who were ineligible to play against UNC.

"It was very damaging to the morale of our football team to read on various media outlets," the letter states. "This narrative implies that we are not performing in the classroom. In fact, that couldn't be further from the truth. The issue at hand is not academic performance, but procedural issues within the registrar's office, compliance department and academic advisement."

FAMU only has one compliance and one academic adviser for FAMU athletics, according to the university.

The players point to this in their letter, stating the Academic Advisement and Compliance offices are understaffed and "consists of one person, who has no subject matter expertise in athletic compliance."

"Currently, we have multiple players that have been deemed unable to participate in competition because simple tasks such as changing of majors, conferring of degrees and the submission of grades have not been completed promptly," the letter reads.

The letter can be found in full below:

20220829153225350 by WTXL ABC27 on Scribd

Friday, it was announced that twenty FAMU football players might not make the trip to North Carolina. Simmons said at that time that it centered around compliance issues ranging from academics to transfers. 

FAMU still traveled to Chapel Hill to play the University of North Carolina this past weekend. Only seven offensive lineman could travel at that time, which is not enough to safely play a football game, Simmons said Friday. Offensive lineman TJ Lee was later able to fly up Saturday as he was certified late.

Simmons said that currently coaches are providing academic support to players, something he never experienced as a player. 

"We don't have that support at the academic level," Simmons said. 

Simmons also said that the Southwestern Athletic Conference has sent down people to assist FAMU in filing waivers and getting interpretations on rulings to help get their athletes back on the field.

In 2019, FAMU faced a series of penalties after the NCAA discovered that student athletes over an eight year period were ineligible to compete in 12 different sports. 

They were issued a five year probation and several other penalties at that time. According to NCAA documents, FAMU filed an appeal for the financial portion of their penalties but lost.