Eason is ruining FAMU athletics

Sports columnist Avery Jacobs
Photo courtesy of Avery Jacobs

Do not believe John Eason — at all. He has done nothing but disappoint Florida A&M alumni while sitting at the helm as the FAMU athletic director. 

It's hard to believe that Eason, the Rattlers’ one-time All-American tight end and punter, truly has FAMU’s best interests in mind. What has he done since being appointed AD? Before we even get to that, where did he come from? There was never a national search for the position conducted by the administration, but President Larry Robinson approved of this guy who had no prior experience as head of an athletics program. What has he done to warrant that selection from the president and Board of Trustees before he was at FAMU? These are serious questions that we must revisit.

The immediate mistake of giving him the interim tag quickly turned into a permanent position. Someone who was barely qualified to be the interim AD became the permanent AD — and now student-athletes and fans are suffering as a result.

Eason was clearly not the best candidate. I get that he had amazing coaching stops at the University of Georgia and Florida State as the wide receivers’ coach, and later became the director of football operations for Georgia.

Does Eason's football administrative gig at Georgia really look appealing to FAMU? The answer to that question is no, of course not. I think he is given too much credit for being the director of football operations at UGA.  

It must be the name of the school that makes the title look good, because last I checked football operation guys do not restructure the culture of programs. He never should have gotten an opportunity with FAMU if he had no level of experience as an athletic director.

What FAMU needs is an AD with proven ability. How about we start looking at people who have had experience and helped turn programs around?

There has been more bad than good from Eason. When Eason took this job in 2017, he promised to help turn around the culture in athletics.

Well, thus far he has failed to keep that promise.

And no, Eason gets no credit for the hire of head football coach Willie Simmons, because he was not the guy who led the search.

One thing he can receive credit for is the resignation of coach Darlene Moore last month. Moore served as the director of track and field, but her title and achievements must have meant little to Eason, as she cited a lack of support from the administration when she resigned, according to student-athletes.

Coach Moore was also putting her own money into funding trips  to out-of-town track meets but was never reimbursed, according to players.

Should I even bring up the resignation of associate athletics director Vaughn Wilson, which will take effect this summer? It might not have anything to do with Eason, but boy it’s hard not to assume that his resignation does not stem from the failure of administration right now. 

The timing is perfect.

But the bigger elephant in the room, the topic that seems to have alumni furious, the topic that seems to have stained him the most during his time at FAMU, was the recent sanctioning of four teams being placed on Academic Progress Rate by the NCAA. 

Men's basketball, men's golf and men's indoor and outdoor track teams were placed on APR under his leadership. When the news got out, it took longer than a week to host a press conference to confirm the reports after they were already online and in print. 

Everybody seems to be blindsided by the football season that recently gave FAMU some praise for hiring Simmons. But the truth of the matter is, the house may be on fire. Questions need to be answered and changes need to be made.

Where is the "Investing in champions" money?

Full disclosure: I have bumped heads with Eason. Any student-journalist trying to do his job right will bump heads with Eason. Let me call it how I see it. I think this is straight malarkey.

FAMU has yet to see any of Eason's vision come to fruition and Lee Hall has yet to hold him accountable. Even Rattler Nation, a blog that mostly promotes FAMU, has called for wholesale changes in athletics. President Robinson, it’s time to act.