Why isn’t the new AD starting right away?

Tiffani Dawn Sykes,
FAMU Athletics. Photo courtesy: famu.edu

Florida A&M University made a monumental announcement Wednesday morning. The university said it had hired Tiffani-Dawn Sykes as the new athletic director.

The news was presented to the public mid-morning Wednesday when the university held its first press conference to allow the new athletic director to introduce herself and allow media, students and members of the athletics staff to ask important questions about the future of athletics.

The press conference was open to the public and saw numerous members of athletics including the softball, football and track teams and even several staff member within the athletic department.

Given the current state of FAMU athletics, this press conference came at an important time. However, this press conference left some scratching their heads a little bit when attendees learned that Davis was participating virtually from Hanover, N.H., where she is athletic director at Dartmouth College.

Yes, you read that correctly. The press conference was held virtually.

This may not seem like a huge issue to outsiders looking in. However, for some, this is an issue that they feel continues to show how much of their own enemy the university is.

During the question and answer period, a number of students asked the newly hired director questions.

Senior broadcast journalism student Maya Ellison asked Sykes how she plans to be the voice for the voiceless in terms of the women’s sports at the university.

“I definitely want to be a voice for the voiceless,” Sykes said.

“My role is to represent the students and give them a voice. I plan to be accessible and I look forward to meeting the students when I come to campus. I am not afraid to have those conversations with students and I look forward to doing so.”

The big question here is, what’s next? With the athletic director position now filled after several months of chaos, some faculty and staff wonder why she is not starting at FAMU until early January.

The current state of athletics is still on edge. About 30 minutes after the press conference, an article was published about more needing to be done in terms of action in athletics.

The article focused on the football team with a key player saying that more needed to be done, but that things have gotten a little better.

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

FAMU President Larry Robinson has since added two additional academic advisors for the athletic department and two academic coaches to serve in the interim until those two positions are filled.

While things are starting to look up for athletics, there is much more to be done. However, the decision to introduce the new director now seems premature. Only time will tell how athletics moves forward.

Sykes will begin her term with the university starting Jan. 4.

A great choice for FAMU and FAMU Athletics as Sykes says that she wants to be a “voice for the voiceless”