FAMU Board of Trustees Meet on Athletic Department

Florida A&M University boards of trustees met on call Friday to discuss the next steps for the athletic department.

The board of trustees Special Committee on Athletics Meeting’s established their goal is to provide strategic direction and help to develop a longer-term division for the athletic department, to ensure the integrity of all financial and business processes within the department and to assist and support the president and board of trustees in building a world class athletic program.

Trustee Kelvin Lawson, a national client service director for Acosta Sales and Marketing, presided over the meeting. Lawson referenced a statement from Association of Governing Boards affirming a board is responsible for the integrity of the hiring process by ensuring the candidates “prior experience, performance and character” live up to the university’s standards.

The AGB serves the interests and needs of academic governing boards.  The Association serves nearly 4,000 individuals including trustees, regents, chancellors, presidents and senior level administrators. Their purpose is to advance citizen trusteeship and ensure quality in colleges and universities success.

Lawson developed a series for motions for the to committee to vote or amend. On the agenda, a motion for President Elmira Mangum to appoint two Board of Trustee members into the search committee for the next football coach.

“The objective is to engage and insert some board … The overall objective is to insert ourselves into a clear, better understanding into the process more from the standpoint of ensuring the process moves through not only in an expeditious fashion, but in a fashion that we would all feel comfortable with in the future,” Lawson said.

The motion passed with two yeses.

However, President Elmira Mangum did not agree. Mangum said she needs time to think about what is means for the board of trustees to appoint themselves into the operational board that hires staff.

The current search committee includes nine members to find FAMU’s new head coach. The chairman of the search committee, John Wooten, is also the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. FPA and the NFL work to encourage opportunities for athletic staff. The committee also includes current and past head coaches, FAMU alumni, university professors and a FAMU student.

This comes after the abrupt firing of then head coach Earl Holmes, a former NFL football linebacker.

The former head coach was relieved of his duties October 29, four days before the anticipated homecoming game against Norfolk State. At homecoming convocation November 1, students and alumni expressed their disapproval of Holmes firing with boisterous boos at Athletic Director Kellen Winslow Sr. Winslow could not be heard through the incessant rowdy demonstrated from the audience.

The FAMU and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Famer received a letter of termination and put on paid administrative leave.

Holmes has had difficulty providing FAMU frequent wins for the football team. Since becoming the head coach in 2013, Holmes lost all five home games last year.

According to Tallahassee Democrat, FAMU alumnus and former state Sen. Al Lawson called Winslow “disrespectful” to fire Holmes at the wake of the homecoming game at a 220 Quarterback Club meeting.

Lawson also remarked that Winslow “should be” fired.

The second motion on the table was a motion for a vote of no confidence for Winslow. This suggestion is a result of turmoil plaguing the athletic department’s reputation.

Trustee Tonnette Graham, a senior healthcare management student and study body president from Tallahassee, Fla., addressed subsequent events affecting the athletic department.

“We’ve seen everything that has unfolded these last events … regarding the firing of the coach, everything with Kellen Winslow’s acts and performance at convocation,” said Graham.

Lawson’s believed action must be taken, “to make and provide a clear statement of significant concern to both the president and the athletic director regarding a series of events and action that have taken place over the last several months.”

The series of events could not be addressed on the call.

Opposition over the a vote of no confidence for Winslow came from Trustee Kimberly Moore, the vice president for Workforce Development at Tallahassee Community College. Moore cautioned the group before making this “bold step.”

“We need to make sure that our action steps are in accordance and that we have followed a practice and model that others can look to and certainly be one that is in alignment with good dignitary roles being carried out,” Moore said.

The motion passed with three yeses.

A special meeting will be held next week to further discuss the items of discussion.