FAMU football players voice concerns over systemic lack of support
The GIST: In the wake of over 25% of the Florida A&M (FAMU) Rattlers football team being deemed ineligible to play during Friday’s 56–24 loss to UNC, 89 players penned a letter to the university’s president on Monday, detailing the systemic lack of support FAMU student-athletes face. It’s not the blame game if it’s the truth.
The context: Most players were deemed ineligible for academic compliance reasons such as not taking enough course credits to comply with NCAA guidelines, despite enrolling — and passing — exactly the classes they were advised to take.
- Academic and compliance advisors are crucial to student athletes’ success, but FAMU is grossly understaffed — the athletic department has just one academic advisor, down from four in 2018, and coaches have stepped up to try and provide academic support.
- To make matters worse, the school’s financial aid officer is also doing the job of a compliance officer. This overload has led to financial aid not arriving on time.
- Besides being misadvised into under-enrolling in credits, some players were deemed ineligible “because simple tasks such as changing of majors, conferring of degrees and the submission of grades have not been completed promptly.”
The impact: Athletes like NFL draft prospect Isaiah Land are angry, worried about their draft stock and regretting not transferring to larger schools with adequate staff. Some are working on filing appeals with the NCAA to restore their eligibility. But the gross lack of support is bigger than Friday’s game — it’s a cyclical ingrained problem.
- HBCUs like FAMU are historically underfunded. Without top dollars, schools struggle to support and attract top talent, and without the best, it’s more of a struggle to win — which, in turn, makes it more difficult to attract donors and media deal money.
What’s next: Despite all of this, the Rattlers will continue to play, not for their school, but for their “families, teammates, classmates, our rabid fan base and our coaches who had prepared us and love us.”
- They take the field on Sunday against Jackson State but will continue to kneel in protest during school songs “until significant changes” are made.