Lending a hand

The Board of Trustees is expected to decide whether or not an athletic affairs department is needed within the SGA to assist the athletic department already on campus.

The student department was an unofficial part of then SGA President Andre Hammel’s “Rock Solid” administration last year, said Sen. Ramon J. Alexander, the senate Judicial & Rules chair. Former student Jessica Jones, who sponsored the amendment last fall, headed last year’s effort.

Officials in the SGA drafted an amendment to give to students about the idea. Student voters approved the amendment during the fall elections.

If approved by the BOT, the department will assist the athletic department promoting and hosting events such as a fan appreciation day, Midnight Madness and the annual sports banquet. The department would also address athlete concerns about campus life and produce a monthly newsletter highlighting the athletes’ academic accomplishments.

“In the past, there was no concrete way to help promote all sports and student athletes,” said Alexander, a sophomore political science student from Tallahassee. “This department creates an outlet for student athletes so their concerns can be addressed to SGA.”

President Larry O. Rivers said he has tentatively selected Jabari Bodrick as the department’s head. If Bodrick, a senior public relations student, is confirmed, the department can begin to operate on campus, said Sen. Jo’Vion Greer, the Senate elections and appointment committee chair.

And Bodrick, a former college athlete, has big plans for the department.

“I want to make the basketball homecoming and the FAMU sports awards very big events,” he said. “I want it to be televised on (FAMUTV) like real awards shows.”

Bodrick, who played football for Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina his freshman year before transferring to FAMU his sophomore year, knows what it feels like to play in front of an empty crowd, a problem many teams face at FAMU.

“We were 2-8,” he said. “People came just to see the band and left.”

Raven Rushton, a member of the softball team, said she hopes the department will be successful in increasing the game attendance.

“Not all sports get the support the football team does,” said the 22-year-old senior criminal justice student from Sacramento, Calif. “It’s hard to promote and get people to come out to softball and tennis games.”

Other sport members, such as track athletes, agree with Rushton.

“It is hard to go to a meet and see no one there,” said Brett Perrimon, 21, a junior psychology student from Miami.

Both students and athletes say the addition of the agency is a step in the right direction.

“There is a genuine need for student support,” said Jones, who graduated in the spring. “Outside of football no one attends the games. Athletics is a very important recruiting tool. It can make or break a decision.”

Melissa Brown can be reached at mnbrown2003@yahoo.com.