Football players on President Robinson: More needs to be done

Star FAMU receiver Xavier Smith says FAMU hasn’t addressed all of the players’ concerns. Photo courtesy:

Earlier in the academic school year, Florida A&M University’s football team wrote a five-page letter signed by 89 players to Larry Robinson, president of the university, The letter was written after the NCAA ruled that 26 football players were ineligible or uncertified for the season opener at University of North Carolina.

In the letter, players said they were misadvised, underrepresented and under-appreciated.

Shortly after, members of the Marching 100 expressed their concerns with the university on social media, explaining that they were being treated worse than the football players.

During the President’s Convocation, Robinson ensured the FAMU community that he would focus on the students’ concerns.

“Let me reassure you that we are addressing the concerns that have been raised by our student-athletes and, of course, this outstanding group of musicians [The Marching 100] who sit in front of me this morning,” Robinson said.

It’s been a month since Robinson made those promises, and according to him, things are looking up for the athletic department and the band.

Robinson told The Famuan that he and his team sat down with the football players soon after the players released their letter to “hear first-hand without hearing it through a letter” the players’ concerns,

Robinson’s team took immediate action to address some of the concerns raised by the players, including financial support.

Last Thursday, Robinson presented a comprehensive action plan for athletics to the board of trustees.

“The plan deals with everything, from academics to compliance. This a very detailed plan; it has actions, strategies, and responsibilities. The boys seemed to be well pleased with that. We continue to work on it, some of these things will have to continue to show commitment, but I just want everyone to understand how important they are to us at FAMU. I do want to emphasize the action plan is for FAMU athletics, not just the football team,” Robinson said.

Kelvin Lawson, chairman of FAMU board of trustees, said he and the board are questioning the president’s plan’s longevity.

“As people rotate, years pass, new coaches come, new ADs come, etc., is this plan sustainable over time? I think the board is comfortable and confident that the current plan will address the issues, but some of these issues aren’t new. They’ve been brewing for a little while, so what are we putting in place to make sure that this plan stands the test of time?” Lawson said.

One of the main reasons why football players were ineligible was because they had been misadvised for classes.

Xavier Smith, who was one of the 26 ineligible players, said there is a need for more academic advisors.

“There is only one [academic advisor] for football,” Smith said. “There is no way she can help all 100 athletes on her own because there are other sports she is involved with.”

Robinson has since added two additional academic advisors for the team and, in the meantime, has added two academic coaches to serve in the interim until those two positions are filled.

He has also committed to five additional compliance persons.

Smith said he and his teammates have had some issues resolved — but not all of them.

“There are a few things we still want to see get done,” Smith said. “But I think they will get handled in due time.”

According to Lawson, “There are close to four players still ineligible to play.”