Appreciation Week reveals athletic concerns

In celebration of Athlete Appreciation Week, the Student Government Association presented an Athletic Town Hall meeting in the senate chambers on Tuesday Sept. 13.

The meeting was geared to kick off the year by highlighting the new campus recreational complex anticipated to open next year and to give students and athletes a chance to discuss their concerns about student athletics at FAMU.

Dominique Drake, the Director of Athletic Affairs within SGA, opened the meeting by reflecting her goals for the year.

“My goal this year is to make students aware of the new sporting events offered through the athletic department and to voice the concerns of student athletes on campus,” Drake said.

Prior to organizing a panelist of members from the athletic department to discuss the concerns of students, Drake sought out student athletes to hear their concerns.

To Drake’s surprise many students’ concerns ranged from “the lack of support from the student body at games to the lack of facilities needed to be competitive,” she said.

Among those concerns, many athletes also stressed the lack of facilities for tutoring and help academically as well as physically.

As a result, Drake not only organized a town hall meeting to voice the concerns of students, but also designated an entire week to bring awareness to students about the future of FAMU athletics.

Throughout the evening, three representatives from the department of athletics answered questions from students and provided vital information about the future of athletics at the University.

Robert Carroll, Director of Intramurals and Recreational Sports, opened the panel discussion about the structure and advantages of the new campus recreational center anticipated to open Jan. 18.

Carroll provided students with graphics of the recreational center to view and discussed the ways in which the new recreational center will change the look of the campus.

FAMU’s anticipated three-story recreation complex will offer a variety of recreational activities designed with the University community in mind. The facility will house four basic areas that will provide students with an array of sports to choose from: Intramural sports, Outdoor Pursuits, Fitness Center, and Club sports.

From rugby, to flag football, and outdoor adventure sports like mountain climbing, Carroll advised students that the new recreational facility will be like no other.

“In the new recreational facility the fitness center alone is roughly 12,000 square feet which is larger than Florida State University fitness room and will house some of the best weight room equipment for body building,” Carroll said.

However, with many provisions to work on before the grand opening in January, Carroll informed students that a committee of students, alumni and community leaders has been formed to finalize the last stage of arrangements before the opening of the recreation center.

During the meeting, Earl Kitchings, Director of Marketing stressed his concerns about the future of athletics from a marketing standpoint.

“As the director of marketing, we invest a lot of money to buy advertisement for our athletes, however, more advertisement requires more money, and money is what we are not getting enough of, simply, not enough alumni are giving back to the athletic department,” Kitchings said.

As many students murmured to Kitching’s comment, Dr. E. Newton Jackson, Interim Athletic Director, interrupted by asking for an explanation to the lack of students coming to pick up tickets for Saturday’s game.

“Can someone explain why two weeks ago we distributed 6,000 student tickets for the opening game and this week we have only distributed 400,” Jackson said.

Aaron Brown, a 19-year-old sophomore business administration student from Detroit, Mich. suggested a reason why students had not picked up tickets.

“As a student, I know many people who don’t even know about the game this week, but for those who do, I know that it is very inconvenient for students to go to the stadium to pick up tickets. My suggestion is to change the pickup point to the Set,” Brown said.

After he suggested more students would pick up tickets at the Set, many students at the meeting agreed with Brown.

In effort to answer to student concerns about specific athletic teams, Talia Hicks, a member on the swim team, emotionally talked about the lack of support financially by the athletic department to help bring back the four sports dropped this year.

“A great deal was done to help out the victims of hurricane Katrina, but little was done to help revive the swim team and the other teams dropped by the athletic department,” said Hicks, a business administration student from Cheverly, Md.

In addition to Hicks, emotional plea for help, Caryl Hamilton, represented the track team in voiceing her concerns about finding a new coach for the ladies track team and answers to the lack of staff within the athletic department to help injured students.

“If you want top athletes than we need top coaches and resources. We shouldn’t have students working on students when a teammate is injured,” Hamilton said.

In response to both of the students, Jackson stated that at the moment negotiations have been made to bring a new coach for the ladies track team and that more staff is in negotiation of being hired for jobs within the athletic department.

“As far as the big four, we understand the importance of these teams to the University and we are going to make provisions to seeing that these teams return back to FAMU,” Jackson said.

Following Jackson, Drake made closing remarks thanking students for coming out and encouraged students to pass the word about Athletic Appreciation Week.

“We hope to see everyone at the pre-game Tailgate party on Saturday from 12-2 p.m.,” Drake said.

Contact Christina Hordge at