It’s time to return some dignity to FAMU’s name and heritage. It’s time for President Gainous to step up, get involved and bring closure to what is taking place in the athletic department.
With J.R.E. Lee III gone, Gainous has named his special assistant, Joseph Ramsey III, to oversee the athletic department on an interim basis.
Gainous reportedly said, “I trust Dr. Ramsey’s judgment, guardianship and decision making.” He did the same with Lee.
An insurmountable amount of trust was placed in Lee’s ability to lead the University’s athletic program to NCAA Division I-A, and no numbers, contracts or letters that came from the athletic department were double-checked by administrators.
Hopefully, with Ramsey claiming that he is about “doing the right thing,” the University can place this terrible I-A fiasco into perspective and work on a fall football schedule. With the trustees’ split decision to return the Rattlers to I-AA status, the 2004 football schedule is still in disarray.
FAMU had contracts to play at least four I-A schools – Toledo, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech Universities and the University of Illinois. When officials from Toledo found out that FAMU was delaying its move, Toledo backed out of the game.
And in reference to Oklahoma, James Corbin, chairman of the board of trustees and fervent advocate of the I-A jump, said the University of Oklahoma planned to make $2.5 million on the game. What about FAMU? How much was FAMU going to make? According to officials at Oklahoma, the school still has FAMU on its schedule, but is trying to find a replacement. Virginia Tech is still up in the air and Illinois said they were keeping FAMU on its schedule.
FAMU is no better off now that it is moving back to the MEAC than when it tried moving to I-A.
The University still needs to find schools to play for the 2004 schedule, and time is running out. It is critical because this mess has made FAMU a laughing-stock in the media and with other schools. The schedule needs to be done as quickly as possible.
Luckily, Ramsey and MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas are scheduled to meet with Gainous Monday afternoon to discuss FAMU’s 2004 schedule.
Ramsey also claims as part of doing the right thing that he is encouraging input from everyone in the athletic department. Well, can someone find Billy Joe? Why is Billy Joe not involved? He wasn’t involved in the atrociously planned I-A move, but he should at least be involved in securing a schedule. Having Joe’s input could prove beneficial in reaching this goal. Why leave him out of the loop?
Joe, who is the second winningest coach in black college football, can be the instrument that is needed to negotiate filling out FAMU’s numerous remaining open dates. Hopefully, it will be a productive meeting, and Gainous will have enough sense and backbone to ask for the proper assistance if needed.
After the football schedule is completed, swift action needs to be taken to further rectify the problems faced by the athletic department -even if it means cleaning house. FAMU needs its integrity and influence back intact, post haste.
Kaye Dallas for the editorial board.