So, we’re movin’ on up to Division I-A. The big league. But has anyone looked before making the leap?
On paper, the transition looks good, but the dangers are hidden.
Standing at the edge of the diving board, the Rattlers are not only facing a pool full of Nittany Lions, Hokies, Wolverines and Gators, but strong financial undercurrents. In order to fully meet I-A requirements, the athletic department must up football scholarships from the current 65 to 85; 200 scholarships across the board have to be available.
There’s also talk of fully renovating athletic facilities. The move to I-A may mean bigger and better things, but it will also mean a sacrifice of traditions that many Rattlers, including myself, cherish.
To an extent, we’ll be alienated from other HBCU’s and longstanding rivalries will eventually come to an end. Because a I-A team can only play two I-AA teams a year, this year will be our last against Howard, Hampton and North Carolina A&T.
The Rattlers are still playing a I-AA schedule, but won’t be ineligible to compete for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title.
Also, while the Rattlers search for a conference, we will have to forgo the prominence we have enjoyed in the I-AA division. In the meantime, FAMU will have to work hard to come up to par with other schools.
Rattler pride may be bruised as athletic teams suffer through public growing pains.
I’m all for expansion and progress, but when it comes prematurely, the results can be disastrous. FAMU is simply doing too much too soon. It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond, than to tread in deep waters with baby fins.
Rahkia Nance, 20, is a senior newspaper journalism student from Herndon, Va. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.