TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — In October, Tiffani Sykes was named Vice President and Athletic Director of Florida A&M University. This week, she officially began her new position. Wednesday may have been Sykes' first day on the job, but she's been gearing up to be a Rattler since October.
She said so far, she's met with all the Rattler coaches, admissions, student affairs, ethics and compliance. She joked there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything she needs to get done done, but added it just feels good to be on campus.
Sykes has made it her mission to meet as many people as possible, even going to a FAMU DRS girls basketball game, as she said any athletic department can't operate effectively without the help of others.
"I was really fortunate that President Robinson saw fit for me to come and kind of dip my toe in the water at a number of events," said Sykes. "I am having to learn a lot really fast, but I'm not having to meet new people, because I had the opportunity to meet people on a couple of visits prior to now. I think that's really going to be really helpful for me to really hit the ground running right now."
One of Sykes' biggest tasks as AD is to fix compliance issues within the FAMU athletic department. When the Florida A&M football team had 20 players not certified by the NCAA to play back in August, FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson committed to add five compliance officers and two academic advisors to the University's staff. Sykes told ABC 27 Friday that the University has seven positions in compliance now, with six of them filled. As far as academics? Sykes said they have five people who will be serving in the athletic academic advising space. One person who leads that space, and four others who serve as athletic academic advisors.
Sykes' background is actually in compliance. She said she was thrilled with the increase in positions, and now it's her job to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to serving the student athletes.
"I plan to work with the NCAA office of academic and membership affairs to do some on campus training to review our processes and make sure that we have everything we need, the knowledge we need, the documents we need and know how to reach people and access resources that we need to we can support these student athletes," she said. "We want everyone to be a specialist in different areas in compliance so they can better serve the athletes and make sure there's no dropped balls when it comes to eligibility, when it comes to amateurism, when it comes to financial aid, when it comes to awards and benefits."
The FAMU job is one Sykes' said she manifested many years ago, and one she admitted to me today that is still a pinch me moment that she's here. As far as a legacy she wants to leave at FAMU?
"When people come to compete at the collegiate level, they want to graduate and they want to win championships," she said. "I want everyone to say I was able to architect an experience for them that allowed them to compete for a championship and to also leave here with a degree. The other thing is, my father is a first generation college student. He has a terminal degree from Virginia Tech, played basketball at Norfolk State University. I'm his legacy. I want to be able to provide those opportunities for people to have access to higher education through sport. "