Florida A&M Athletic Director Milton Overton Jr., unexpectedly announced in October that he would be accepting the same position with Kennesaw State. Weeks later following the Rattler football season, the university appointed John Eason as Interim Director of Athletics.
FAMU’s athletic department underwent a plethora of improvements under Overton’s direction. One major proposal for the department was blueprint for a brand new, $9 million sports facility.
Construction for the complex was slated to be completed in 2018 and feature 2,000 additional seats for Bragg Stadium’s south end zone, as well as an upgraded Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse.
The former FAMU AD, who served the university for two years, can also be credited with raising Academic Progress Rate scores amongst the department’s 15 teams, and drastically improving ticket and fundraising sales. Event participation also increased substantially.
Now, stability has returned to FAMU athletics. President Larry Robinson officially appointed Eason the Director of Athletics for FAMU last Thursday. In an earlier news release Robinson said, “I am excited that Dr. Eason has accepted this position and will become part of my senior leadership team for the long haul.”
Eason, a FAMU alumnus, has already begun to make changes throughout the athletic department, including appointing Willie Simmons as head coach of the Rattler football team.
“It’s an extreme honor to have the opportunity to continue to move FAMU Athletics forward within the scope of the excellence of this great university,” Eason said in the news release.
Similar to Overton, Eason will assume the position with an extensive history of collegiate experience. Moreover, he also possesses professional experience.
An All-American, Eason played football for FAMU from 1964 to 1967, spent one year in the NFL playing for the Oakland Raiders, and another playing for the Canadian Football League.
Eason’s tenure as a coach, football operations director, and assistant to the athletic director at University of Georgia should assist him in accumulating more improvements for the department.
"I’m interested to see how he plans on improving the current state of FAMU athletics," said graduate assistant Morgan Culler.
Student-athletes Hans Supre and Justin Ravenel also are eager to see what the Eason ear will produce.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone who has been here and has seen the pros and cons of athletics at FAMU. I think he has a lot to offer and will improve athletics,” said Ravenel, a member of the men’s basketball team.
Football running back Supre said, “I haven’t met him yet, but I’m curious to know if he will carry out some of Overton’s plans.”
The day-to-day operations of a collegiate athletic department include far more than meets the eye. Responsibilities range from allocation of funds, to hiring athletic staff, scheduling games, increasing ticket sales, improving booster relations and providing overall departmental guidance.
A member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), FAMU competes in Division I of the NCAA. The university hosts 15 men’s and women’s sports teams, although football and basketball are the only revenue generating sports.
As far as Eason; Rattler boosters, alumni, fans, student-athletes and athletic staff are undoubtedly affected every time a change in leadership is made. Each of the mentioned stakeholders has great expectations for the new AD, and a man of his caliber should unquestionably continue the “building champions” athletic legacy.