Made official in a board meeting on June 30, 2005, Florida A&M University has officially cut the men’s golf, men’s tennis, men and women’s swimming teams from the athletic roster. In an effort to balance the budget of the athletic department, extreme decisions on the part of the department had to be taken and in the words of Interim Athletic Director, Dr. E. Newton Jackson, “Fiscal responsibility must be taken with all decisions for the well being of all students.” More or less, we do not have the money to support the teams.
A consensus among the administration on the problem led to a major lack of support given to the programs and department in general from alumni and friends. According to Dr. Jackson, financial support is imperative and lacking and “to create more opportunity, more financial giving has to occur.” One other point brought up in terms of a soluwould be to add $1.25 to students’ tuition, specifically for those sports, which could effectively raise more than $400,000 to support these programs. The issue can not however just go into play and must ultimately receive the support of the student body to enter consideration. Student Government Association President Ramon Alexander is set to meet with the Athletic Director on the issue “to ensure that the best interest of the student body is kept in mind,” in his own words.
Although a touchy subject when dealing with financials, one of the main issues of the coaches on the topic is more moral oriented. “With the cuts being made last minute, we were left with little time to prepare, little time to raise the necessary funds, and very little time for our current athletes to find alternative routes,” remarked Dr. Carl Goodman, Head Men’s Tennis Coach. Other issues in debate relate to the an agreement between the teams and the department on raising $25,000 to support the teams for the upcoming season. The deal, however, must make it to the President for approval before it can advance any further. With the delay on the final yes or no for at least the current season, players are kept in limbo on whether to stay at FAMU and see how the decision plays out, or to find another school, which if not done soon, could lead to at least the loss of a competitive season.
Although the decision on the teams are handled and negotiated by the administration, it ultimately affects the student athletes, who are left in quite a predicament. Most attending FAMU on athletic scholarship, and most from out of state will be forced to either leave FAMU after the current school year or stay, not play their sport and pay full out of state tuition. The school has agreed to grant the athletes their scholarships for this year, but this year only.
Many of the athletes have professional aspirations upon the completion of their college career, and are more or less forced to leave FAMU if they want to pursue them. The decision to transfer, however, is not so easy for some of the older players on the team. Take tennis player, Frank Green, a junior, public management major from Philadelphia, PA, who considers foregoing his final two seasons because closeness to graduation along with a difficult process of transferring credits to other universities.
A different situation is in place for the swimming programs at FAMU. Specific to the women’s swim team, the process of a Title IX lawsuit is in place relating to a university’s equal amount of athletic opportunities available for men and women.
In the case of future financial stability, even financial prosperity at the university, the idea of bringing the cut sports back would not be out of the question, according to Dr. Jackson. However, for that idea to even be feasible, much more support must be given from outside sources, mainly alumni and friends. All that the athlete’s ask for is a final decision, so that they can make theirs. Clifford Malivert, a sophomore tennis player, majoring in criminal justice from Miami, FL (also last season’s MEAC Rookie of the Year) had this to say of the situation, “We’re tired of being left in limbo, we just want to play. So let us know if we can, and if not then just give me my release papers and let me move on.”
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