Movin’ on back

After four hours of deliberation, the Board of Trustees voted 7 to 5 on Tuesday to remain in Division 1-AA during its meeting in the Grand Ballroom. The motion, which was brought to the table by the Rev. R.B. Holmes, was to delay the move to Division 1-A while keeping the contractual obligations to play three away football games against the University of Illinois, Oklahoma University and Virginia Tech University, as well as one home against Toledo University.Along with the four contracts, the athletic department also has two memorandums of understanding to play Florida International University and Tulane University at a neutral location in Tampa. The verdict to delay the move could have an adverse affect on next year’s scheduling because the football team would still carry a 1-AA status.Furthermore, the decision could possibly deter teams, like Virginia Tech and Oklahoma, from playing FAMU, because it would weaken their strength of schedule in the Bowl Championship Series standings. As a result, the University might face litigation from schools they have contracts with in the future, because they where signed under the impression that FAMU was becoming a 1A football program.Chairman James Corbin tried to explain to the trustees and others in attendance the negatives of stepping down from Division 1-A. Corbin said that if they decide to postpone the move that the University would have to wait seven years to reapply.”We have to have some integrity here,” Corbin said. “I agree that the primary function of the University is academics, it always has been. But if you cancel these games, it will be hard to get replacements, especially at this point of the year.”Corbin said the University of Oklahoma plans to make $2.5 million on the game. He also said if the University decides to back out of these contracts, it would have more to worry about besides cancellation fees.”These schools may sue [the university] for loss of opportunity,” he said. This includes money already raised for ticket sales.President Fred Gainous, who said he agreed with the position Corbin and many others in attendance shared, said those who wanted to go forth with the move needed to consider the whole University when making a decision and not just the athletic department.”I do not disagree with most, but when we put it in full context of the University, it takes a different shape as in what is best for the University,” he said. “We are asking if the University can be successful at Division 1-A.”SGA President Larry O. Rivers, before making his decision on whether or not to move, made a statement about the impact that the issue has had on the student body. “Students pay one-third of the entire athletic fee, which is $8.75 per credit hour,” said the 22-year-old public relations student from Tallahassee. “Students are going to start to wonder why should we pay this money when we’re not getting our money’s worth?”With Toledo University being the only home game confirmed for the 2004 football season, Rivers said he is sure students will start to question what their fees are being used for. Rivers also said that as student body president, he has played a refereeing role between the student body and University officials and cannot leave the students hanging in limbo. “We’ve seen the University lose money in the past because of rising tuition costs,” he said. “We have to show how the finances will be satisfied without asking for an increase and stop putting [the burden] on the backs of students.”