FAMU graduation dates conflict with MEAC tournaments

Pictured is senior athlete for women’s tennis, Haleigh Porter, as she holds her favorite sport dear to her heart. Photo Courtesy Haleigh Porter

Haleigh Porter is between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Porter is a graduating senior at Florida A&M. She is also the No. 1 singles player on the Rattlers’ tennis team.

Her dilemma: FAMU has moved up the dates for spring commencement  to April 23-25,  the same weekend that the tennis team is scheduled to be playing in the conference championships in Virginia.

Porter said she is disappointed and hasn’t dealt with the hard decision between the two important events.

“I would say that I have not even dealt with the tough decision as of yet, I mean, since they just put out the graduation dates, I do have to deal with it at some point. But I just really have not sat down and thought about what I am going to do yet. But yes, it is definitely difficult and really disappointing that there is nothing we can do at this time,” Porter said. 

Graduating student-athletes at FAMU have worked hard to participate in the Middle-Eastern Athletic Conference tournaments and never expected they would conflict with their college graduation.

On March 2, FAMU students received campus-wide emails to announce that the university will host spring 2021 commencement in-person. It will consist of six ceremonies starting Friday, April 23, through Sunday, April 25.

These are the same dates that FAMU’s tennis team is scheduled to be taking part in the annual  conference tournament.

FAMU’s men’s basketball team is taking part in its conference championship today. Bryce Moragne, a member of the team and graduating senior, said he empathizes with fellow student-athletes who will be dealing with a conflict next month.

Pictured is senior athlete for men’s basketball, Bryce Moragne, as he dribbles with a love for basketball and an appreciation to be a graduating senior. Photo courtesy Bryce Moragne

“I am actually very excited that I do not have to pick and choose between whether or not I would attend graduation or the MEAC tournament. If I had to make that decision, it would be a very hard one for me to make, because as a child I have always dreamed about walking across the stage after graduating college, but I also have always dreamed of winning a conference championship and getting a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. Two things that I am very passionate about,” Moragne said. 

Graduating student-athletes at FAMU have dreamed and worked their entire college careers not only to walk across the stage but to claim a MEAC championship and earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Just when players want to reap the fruits of their labor, some of them are left with an agonizing decision. It can be a tough pill to swallow for any graduating-senior athlete. 

“Both events are events that all athletes dream of being able to do. Both walking across the stage and playing for a championship are things that every athlete dreams of. The memories that you will have at both events are ones you will be able to carry with you the rest of your life,” Moragne said.

Athletic director Kortne Gosha could not be reached for comment regarding the dilemma facing graduating student-athletes.

 “You never know what the future might hold, so we are praying and crossing our fingers that we can attend both events without restriction. I have not really heard any accommodations to be set in place for graduating seniors as of yet. I think that my coach is just focused on us paying in the MEAC. I mean, she has already graduated from college, and so I think it is hard for her to empathize with us even though we have four seniors,” Porter said.

Porter and her teammates have not heard anything yet that will allow them to celebrate both events. She said she hopes to have a solution soon.