Scholarship athletes forced to move

The University developed the rule last year that prevents full scholarship students from living off campus, and now the campus Athletic Department is finally following suit.

This is nothing new for other full scholarship students, but for most of the University’s athletes, the rule comes as an unwelcome surprise.

Athletic Director Nelson Townsend explained that the rule was implemented by University administrators in 2006, but athletes were not notified until last week.

“The decision was made last year for all full scholarship students, but student athletes were exempt only because of such late notice,” he said.

There are about 107 full scholarship athletes at FAMU who will be affected by the change.

The rule, which takes effect immediately, requires that all full scholarship student athletes reside on campus during the fall semester of 2007. “I’m sure the athletes will get over the sudden shock, but changes had to be made,” Townsend said.

Director of Housing Isaac Brundage said housing space will not be a problem for incoming freshmen and returning athletes.

Dorm facilities Sampson Hall and Young Hall, which were closed in 2003 because of poor living standards, will reopen to accommodate the increased need for housing.

“We are now in the process of special renovation on the dorms, including Sampson and Young,” Brundage said. “Lack of space will not be an issue for the University.”

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Anthony Collins said he heard the news last Wednesday. Collins had to abandon his plans to live off campus after hearing the news.

“I disagree with it,” Collins said of his new living arrangements. “Students come to college for transition from adolescence to adulthood. Living on campus reminds me of living at home. There is room check, no co-ed visitation. I mean most of us are practically adults.”

Junior wide receiver Willie Hayward has mixed feelings about the new rules being implemented.

Hayward, who lived off campus since his second semester at FAMU, said although he is apprehensive about moving back on campus he believes this is the best thing for the team.

“It’s hard to make the transition from living off campus for two to three years and moving back,” Hayward said. “But it’s a good way to bring the team together. It provides unity, and it’s easier for us to transport to team activities.”

Townsend offered assurance that certain adjustments will be made for athletes who have acceptable reasons for living off campus. He also explained that student athletes do have other options.

“One answer to this dilemma is students are allowed to take partial scholarships and provide their own housing,” he said. “I only want the best for our athletes. We do not want to force feed this rule.”

In-state students are allotted $9,500 in scholarship money per academic school year, and out-of-state students receive $22,000.

Assistant coach for FAMU’s men’s basketball team Mike Gillespie Jr. said he has been unable to get clarification regarding to the housing conditions next semester.

“I have been playing phone tag with (housing director) Isaac Brundage in search of a answers and an understanding of next year’s housing availability and conditions,” he said.

Gillespie also mentioned that even if the rules are disagreeable his athletes are willing to abide by them.

“There are pros and cons to everything,” Gillespie said of the new rule. “Whatever FAMU has to offer will be just fine.”

Townsend said he feels this rule will not affect the outcome of future recruiting. Townsend said he believes this is best for the athletes and students as a whole.

“As their athletic director, I owe it to these students to provide good living conditions, safety, nutritious meals – all you can eat – and proper training,” Townsend said. “I can assure all this by having the students live on campus.”