Assistant athletic director goes back to HBCU roots

For Marlynn Jones, it was her love of black colleges that brought her from the University of South Carolina to Florida A&M University to take the job of associate athletic director of compliance.

“I grew up around black colleges,” said Jones, a University of North Carolina graduate. “My godfather’s grandfather founded St. Paul’s College in Virginia. I grew up going to functions at St. Paul’s College and Virginia State College. So I’ve been around black colleges for a long time.”

In addition to Jones’ new appointment, which was effective Nov. 30, Nelson Townsend was also named the new Athletic Director, further changing the face of the department.

Since October 2002, Jones managed rules, education programs, athlete eligibility and assisted with game day operations for both basketball and football at South Carolina. As of Jan. 13, the specific duties of her job here were still pending.

She also worked as the venue press operations coordinator of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. But her heart, she said, has always been with collegiate athletics.

“Outside of the Olympics, all of my experience has been with intercollegiate athletics because I prefer working with the students,” Jones said.

Interim President Castell V. Bryant obtained Jones’ resume through the Florida General Counsel. As a member of the Florida Bar, Jones said she was eager to return to Florida if an opportunity presented itself.

“After speaking with (Bryant) and seeing what kinds of things she was trying to do for the university, and how athletics played into that, I thought it would be a good fit,” Jones said.

Townsend said he is delighted to have Jones aboard.

“She has extreme experience and talent,” Townsend said. “She appears ready to work and I think she’ll be a fine addition.”

The recent NCAA violations of the FAMU athletic department brought concern with those on campus as well as FAMU’s extended alumni family. Jones said she waited until she was able to read an actual copy of the report before passing any judgment.

“The majority of the violations came as result of paperwork being either administered improperly or untimely,” Jones said. “Of the two-hundred-something violations, about 150 were results of a piece of paper not being signed timely or not filed properly, and those are all easily fixable things,” Jones said.

To address these issues, Jones said she plans to adjust the schedule of when athletes meet with compliance. Before any physical, team meeting or practice, she said athletes will be required to fill out the necessary paperwork. She also said the recent assignment of four academic advisers specifically for athletics should help track credit hours toward degrees.

“We don’t care about them playing, we care about them getting degrees,” said Joyce Thomas, academic adviser for basketball. “There’s absolutely been a difference since we started because we’re making students take an active role in their own education.”

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