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Florida A&M University Board of Trustees calls for accountability from FAMU President

Posted at 12:31 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-03 00:43:49-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Accountability took center stage as Florida A&M University President Dr. Larry Robinson spoke with the Board of Trustees via Zoom Friday morning.

The meeting began with President Robinson presenting his short term and long term plan to address several issues that have come to light.

Robinson stated he remains committed to student success and noted that there will be seven positions total added: five new positions to compliance office and two positions athletic advisement.

Two existing advisers will be re-purposed and there will be an increase in the number of available tutors.

There will also be additional financial support added for summer school food and lodging, which many student athletes take advantage of.

During the meeting Trustee Otis Cliatt said that leadership at the university will be helped responsible on all levels.

"The alumni base as well as the trustees are really getting tired of hearing the cleanup work that is taking place at the university and we need for you President Robinson as the leader to express to your leadership team that everyone is being held accountable to manage their area and then manage up the information to you. I need to make sure that message is very, very clear."

He went on to say that these issues brought up are all repeated issues that must be resolved.

In his closing remarks, Board Chair Kelvin Lawson echoed the sentiment of increased accountability.

"A heightened level of accountability is demanded from this board," Lawson said.

The Board of Trustees will implement a weekly meeting with Dr. Larry Robinson and there will be an internal review that will be reported out to the board in full detail.

"For the 700 plus people listening, we appreciate you being on this morning, but everyone needs to know that we are very attentive to our student needs prior, today and moving forward," Lawson said.

This emergency meeting came after issues were brought forward regarding athletic compliance and housing.

Ongoing Athletic Compliance Issues

Friday, Aug. 26, ABC 27 reported that at least 20 FAMU football players were ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of compliance issues ranging from academics to transfers.

The number has since fallen to 17.

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

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

The letter highlighted issues with academic support and compliance.

Two of those players, Isaiah Land and Cameron Covin, have retained attorney Tom Mars to represent them regarding certification issues.

FAMU later released a statement about the ongoing compliance issues and FAMU President Larry Robinson held a press conference Tuesday to address the football team.

Before the press conference began, Robinson had the opportunity to speak with the football players directly as well as learn from them. He described the conversation as a "very understanding dialogue."

According to Robinson, a commitment has been made to have five additional compliance workers and two academic advisers to assist with compliance among athletics. He hopes to have the additional workers within the next two months and the other individuals by the end of the fall semester.

Wednesday, ABC 27 reported that the Assistant Director of Media Relations at Florida A&M University said the Compliance Office has already started interviewing for the 5 new compliance positions.

This isn't the first time FAMU has run into issues with compliance when it comes to athletics.

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.

Housing Issues

The Florida A&M University Office of Housing released a statement Tuesday evening regarding student housing at Palmetto Phase III and Polkinghorne Village West.

The university said that all Palmetto Phase III apartments were treated Saturday in regards to a pest infestation and staff has been cleaning and assessing since Monday.

A walk through of these apartments is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 31 and students are expected to return from hotels Sept. 1.

The students of Polkinghorne Village West were displaced after a fire hazard incident on Aug. 26.

FAMU reports that 128 students were displaced due to water damage that affected the first, second, third and fourth floors.

ServPro is currently drying out these apartments and demolishing any saturated walls, the statement reads.

According to the university, shuttle transportation, security and coverage of hotel expenses were being covered for all displace students.

Students were expected to be able to return Thursday, Sept. 1, but Wednesday, Director of Housing Jennifer Wilder went on a walk through of the apartments, and says more minor issues were discovered.

Students were told they could move back in Friday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.