Will Eason remain FAMU athletic director?

John Eason the day he was promoted to permanent Director of Athletics for FAMU. Photo courtesy Florida A&M University Sports Information

The status of Florida A&M Athletic Director John Eason remained unclear as of Tuesday evening.

Eason told media on Sunday following the Rattlers’ 34-31 win over North Carolina A&T that he had submitted his letter of resignation to FAMU President Larry Robinson. Robinson refused to accept the letter, according to Eason, and the two were scheduled to meet Monday to discuss things further, but neither could be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The FAMU alumnus started his tenure in December 2017 as interim director of athletics and has served as permanent AD since February 2018. He is the eighth permanent head of athletics in the last decade.

A multi-million dollar deficit that has only increased over the years, NCCA sanctions, heavy criticisms from the Board of Governors and the FAMU National Alumni Association, have plagued the FAMU Sports Hall of Famer’s time as FAMU AD.

Vaughn Wilson, former associate AD for media relations and owner of Mega Ace Media Inc., worked under Eason until Wilson stepped down in June. He recognized Eason as a good man whose love for the university runs deep. He said Eason came to FAMU to help, but admitted Eason was in a difficult position.

“Working with Dr. Eason for the last two years, I realized that the position of an athletic director at any institution … it’s going to be difficult because it’s always a juggling act,” Wilson said.

He said the position of AD is extremely stressful because whomever is in that position is challenged to make it work with limited resources, and budget shortcomings that have built up over the years. He said athletics hasn’t been able to solve the “riddle” of the budget. He also noted it’s a critical time for the AD, and a difficult time to find a replacement because it’s the middle of the football season.

The blog Rattler Nation speculated on Sunday that FAMU officials had extended an offer to University of Miami Associate AD for Facilities & Operations Kortne Gosha. Gosha is an Alabama native who received his degree in political science from Jackson State University, a historically black college in Mississippi. He received his master’s in sports management from Southern New Hampshire University.

As of Sept. 11, the athletic department’s debt was about $9 million. FAMU also owes the NCAA, the governing body for intercollegiate athletics, $305,000 as part of its penalty for poor Academic Progress Rate scores. New initiatives, including a hiring freeze in athletics, are designed to eliminate some of that debt. Many Rattlers are hoping to see the fruits of athletics’ labor, particularly as the football team has won six straight games and is nationally ranked for the first time in more than a decade.

Many are also anxiously anticipating the outcome of Monday’s meeting between Eason and Robinson, provided it took place.

Eason had been retired when he returned to his alma mater in hopes of making strides in athletics. He has been credited with hiring football head coach Willie Simmons.