After summer of uncertainty, golf, tennis teams in full swing this fall

Florida A&M's men’s golf and tennis teams had been suspended in June due to financial issues.

After the teams worked to raise money and pay their costs, the university's athletic department lifted the suspensions.

That was early August

Golf team caption Anthony Phipps swings at a ball in this Famu Athletics photo.

According to new FAMU Athletic Director Kellen Winslow Sr., both teams are still in the process of being reinstated. When Winslow was hired, the athletic program had a $2.3 million deficit.

The athletic department has made $1.2 million in budget cuts. Some of these cuts include coaches, staff and travel.  Also, the football team lost $330,000 in funding.

Winslow said the athletic department didn’t have enough money to support the teams. This year’s operating budget exceeded t projected revenue. When this happens, expenses have to be cut and revenue has to be increased, he said.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has a model for when these things happen. Men’s Olympic sports are usually cut first.

“It was the fiscally responsible thing to do,” Winslow said. We’re trying to stabilize the operation, and get it on firm footing. Then turn it around and start growing it.”.

Winslow added that he wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again next year. This isn’t the first time FAMU tennis and golf have been cut. Both teams were suspended in Fall 2005 for 60 days for the same reason.

This time, the main expense was the $30,000travel budget. Both teams were able to raise a portion of the money through fundraising and support from local businesses.    

Carl Lewis is the head coach of FAMU Men’s tennis team. Lewis told his team not to worry about anything.  

“Being the head coach it’s my responsibility in terms of the situation we were dealt with,” Lewis told The Famuan. It’s my job to make things happen off the court. It’s my players’ job to make things happen on the court.”

The tennis team began fall play two weeks ago. The team will competed in the HBCU Challenge in Atlanta, Ga., this past weekend. This will be the team's last tournament until the spring.

Marvin Green is the head coach of FAMU’s men’s golf team. He told his players to focus on their play and let the situation handle itself.
“When the university makes these decisions you have to able to adjust and adapt to them,” Green said.

The head coaches were not the only affected by the decision, players were too. Two players on the tennis team transferred because they were unsure if they would have a season.

Courage Okungbowa is a sophomore standout on the tennis team. He thought about transferring when the suspension first came down.

“I was shocked when I first heard the news. I looked for other schools (to transfer to), but it was too late in the process,” said Okungbowa. “I came back and I wanted to play. Then they told me that the team was coming back.”
He added that this experience brought him and his teammates closer together.

Anthony Phipps is the captain of the men’s golf team. Phipps and his teammates were devastated when they heard the news.

“Golf is something that the majority of my teammates and I have been around our whole lives. Our coach told us to be optimistic, and he was right,” Phipps said.

The golf team is ready tee-off its season. Play begins on Sept. 26 at The Hall of Fame Tournament in Atlanta, Ga.

Some students were unaware of the team’s suspension. Eboni Ingram is a freshman pre-dentistry student from Palm Beach, Fla.  She didn’t know the teams were suspended, but she’s glad that that two winning sports will have a season.

“I feel like the athletic department should do a better job of supporting non-revenue sports. These sports actually win games,” Ingram said.

Both teams finished strong last season. The tennis team made it to the semi-final round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament; and the golf team finished second in the 28th annual Professional Golfers Association Minority Collegiate Golf championship last spring.