Contracted schools react to I-A decision

At the Feb. 10 Board of Trustees meeting, Chairman James Corbin and other trustees cited future litigation from potential opponents among their reasons for opposing the delayed move to Division I-A.”These schools may sue (the university) for loss of opportunity,” Corbin said at the meeting.Last Tuesday, the BOT voted 7-5 in favor of delaying the move to Division I-A, but Trustees Corbin, Alberto Cardenas, Challis Lowe, William Jenkins Jr. and Regina Benjamin voted against the delay out of the fear the University would face litigation for signing the contracts under the impression that they would be a I-A program. However, three of the four opponents on FAMU’s Fall 2004 football schedule have confirmed with the Famuan that they do not intend on suing the university for regressing back to I-AA.”Bringing litigation against FAMU is not something we are considering,” said Oklahoma University Athletics Director Joe Castiglione. Castiglione said due to the BOT’s decision, OU is looking for a team to take the place of FAMU in their schedule.”We signed with the intent of FAMU being a certified Division I-A football team,” Castiglione said. “Currently we are seeking to find another opponent to replace FAMU, until that time they will remain on our schedule.” Toledo University is the only school, so far, that said it would not play FAMU next season. “We have talked to officials from the University and have decided we will no longer play against FAMU,” said Toledo University Athletics Director Mike O’Brien. “The fact that FAMU did revert back to Division I-A was the deciding factor…we signed the contract relative to FAMU being a D I-A program.” The University of Illinois Assistant Athletics Director Kent Brown released a statement that said despite the decision by FAMU, they will continue to play the game as scheduled, but they will reduce the pay out from $450,000 to $320,000. “The contract was signed with the understanding that FAMU would be a D I-A school, so when they are a D I-AA school of course that is going to lower their market value.”The last team, Virginia Tech, was unable to be reached for comment and as of yet has made no changes to their 2004 football schedule.Another concern brought up by Corbin at Tuesday’s meeting was how other teams in the I-A community would view FAMU. However, Castiglione said OU still has a good relationship with FAMU.”In no way will the move back affect our relationship with FAMU, we want to see FAMU make the jump in the future and if they are able, we will be more than open to playing them.”