Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson, struggling to close a multi-million dollar deficit in athletics, announced a hiring freeze for the department in August.
But that hasn’t stopped the FAMU Department of Athletics from bringing in new people to fill positions that were never advertised through normal job posting sites.
Over the winter break, FAMU hired two new top positions in athletics. The hires, announced by newly installed athletics director Kortne Gosha, were Keith McCluney (deputy director of athletics and chief of staff) and Karai Lockley (associate athletic director for business and finance). Gosha last month hired a third member to his leadership team, Ron Reeves (associate athletic director for revenue generation).
All three hires were made, according to FAMU administrators, due to an essential need in athletics to fill those positions. Gosha told The Famuan that bringing on McCluney and Lockley was in compliance of university policy despite the hiring freeze.
“So obviously it’s in compliance with athletics because we have to have key personnel to execute,” Gosha said. “Through a rightsizing exercise there’s personnel we divested from or we removed and we replaced those personnel with individuals, so beyond the hiring freeze those are positions outside of those that are critical roles it was almost a one-for-one replacement.”
Whenever a position needs to be filled at FAMU, no matter the department, the process must go through Human Resources, according to state statues.
FAMU Vice President of Human Resources Joyce Ingram explained how the hiring of McCluney and Lockley was in compliance with the hiring freeze and executed without posting the positions on the HR website.
“A hiring freeze was imposed in the fall that was to assist the athletics department in balancing their financial budget,” Ingram said. “The request to fill those two positions were in accord with the hiring freeze guidelines because there is an exception to the guidelines.”
When the university needs to find people to interview for certain positions, it typically advertise the positions in order to have applicants. However, for the positions that were recently filled in athletics, they were an exception to being advertised, Ingram said.
“We do have exceptions to the rule of the advertisement process and we call that the waiver of advertisement,” Ingram said. “So a person can be appointed through the waiver or the position can be advertised. Individuals participate in the interviewing process and they are selected by the hiring manager and the appropriate authority will approve the hire. The individuals who have the authority to hire in the university are the president or vice presidents of FAMU.”
With the hiring freeze still in place, the question remains: Will Gosha continue to bring in new personnel?
“So, yes and no,” he said. “Again one of the things we can’t control are people that leave the department. So in my time since I got here on Dec. 3, we’ve had three or four individuals move onto better opportunities at other universities — In critical areas. So yes, we will be replacing those positions outside of the hiring freeze. So the hiring freeze is really an expense protection so it was implemented to ensure we’re not adding additional personnel that aren’t essential or that are not required.”
Robinson has said the hiring freeze will not be removed until the department shows it can balance its budget. One other measure taken prior to Gosha’s arrival was the elimination of two men’s intercollegiate sports, cross country and tennis, at the end of the current fiscal year.
“The hiring freeze will be ongoing until we hear more from the athletic director as well as the president regarding their beliefs around our ability to continue to balance the budget,” Ingram said. “The budget was balanced last year. We anticipate having a balanced budget for this year as well. When there’s no further need for a hiring freeze they will let us know and we will lift the freeze.”