Florida A&M University’s $8 million dollar surplus led to the announcement of the restoration of four sports by Interim President Castell V. Bryant Oct. 21.
The University dropped the men’s golf, men’s tennis,, and men and women’s swimming and diving teams due to financial problems. The created problems stemmed from the failed attempt to move the athletic program to Division I-A during the Gainous administration.
The University was looking for $485,000 in donations to help restore the sports, according to http://www www..famu.edu.
“With the identification of a University budget surplus, ” Bryant said, “the decision has been made to restore the four sports to competition this academic year,.” Bryant said.
Reinstating the female teams also prevented a potential lawsuit against the University by
Trial Lawyers of Public Justice, a national public interest law firm.
In a demand letter dated Aug. 9, TLPJ charged that the University’s decision to eliminate the women’s teams violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination by educational institutions receiving federal funds.
Leslie A. Brueckner, TLPJ staff attorney, said FAMU was one of the top five worst schools of providing sports opportunities for females, according to a survey in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
“We are happy that the team has been replaced,” Brueckner said. “We will stand guard to make sure the women’s teams are treated fair.”
Angela Beale, coach of the swimming and diving team, is no stranger to programs in jeopardy.
Beale, along with her older sister, was on the 1991-1992 FAMU swimming team that also faced elimination from the athletic department. She left for Howard the next year, even though her older sister stayed at FAMU.
Beale said she wanted to give back to the school where she started her collegiate career.
“One of the reasons for taking the job b,” the first-year coach said, “was because (the program) was in jeopardy,.” the first-year coach said.
Beale said the program took a blow after University officials dropped the sport.
She said the number of people on the swim team is not solidified and they are currently looking for more swimmers.
Beale said the teams should be prepared for competition whenever they can officially play.
“This team has a lot of talent- raw talent that brought them this far,, ” Beale asaid, “and with the he
level of expertise between myself and (swimming coach) Ratimer, I think that we will be able to get them definitely to a level of competition where they will be successful in this coming year,.” she said.
Carl Goodman, coach of the men’s tennis team, said he’s hopeful the NCAA will reinstate the team.
The team is taking a “wait and see” approach.
“I’m waiting to hear from the athletic director,” Goodman said, “and the athletic director is waiting to hear from the NCAA and the (Mid-Atlantic Eastern) conference.”
The team won two past selections to the MEAC second team All-Conference and the Rookie of the Year.
The tennis season starts in the spring. This means there is a chance the team will play a whole season and some players may stay.
“If they play in the spring,” Goodman said, “I think some of my guys will probably stay,.” Goodman said.
Both Goodman and Beale said they are trying to reestablish the confidence of their teams. One of their goals is to establish confidence of high school swimmers interested in attending FAMU.
Even though the tennis team may stay intact, the swimming teams have to replenish their ranks.
Beale said, “We try to settle their minds ,” Beale said, “and let them know we will be there for them.”
Contact Emmanuel Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org.