Head football coach controversy

FAMU Athletics’ logo
Photo courtesy: FAMU Athletics Facebook page

FAMU AD Tiffani-Dawn Sykes and Shawn Gibbs, her proposed candidate for the head coaching job to replace former head coach Willie Simmons, received no votes of confidence from the Florida A&M National Alumni Association Executive Board.

The National Alumni Association held a nearly two-hour Zoom meeting on Wednesday concerning the proposal with former players, administrators, and a parent of a current football player. The FAMU NAA motion was passed 19-1 as a vote of “no confidence” in Shawn Gibbs as the candidate.

“Picking someone from a D2 school who [has] barely been a head coach and tearing down an entire championship staff while pissing off an entire fanbase, alumni base, and players in the transfer portal era and not communicating about it is not how to hire a head coach,” said Doc Sarje, a current member of the FAMU National Alumni Association.

The second motion came regarding Sykes’s ability to lead the department. The motion was debated after it was stated Sykes didn’t speak with stakeholders in regards to raising ticket prices and parking packages, pulling out of the Orange Blossom Classic, and the search that led to Gibbs being identified as the top candidate for the head coaching position. The motion was on whether Sykes didn’t communicate with the NAA. The motion against Sykes passed with just three dissenting votes.

This comes after the FAMU Boosters recommended that the coaching search be suspended in a letter to President Larry Robinson from FAMU Rattler Boosters President Selvin Cobb.

“I and my Executive Board Members are getting hundreds of calls about the search for the new football coach,” Cobb said in his letter to the president. “The one rumor that many claim has been confirmed is the proposed hiring of Fort Valley State Football Coach Shawn Gibbs without any discussion with the stakeholders.”

The Famuan emailed Sykes for her reaction to the NAA votes but FAMU’s athletic director did not respond.

Some people would rather see the coaching position go to someone who has ties with FAMU. On X, formally known as Twitter, FAMU fans were saying to hire someone already within the system, like James Colzie III, who is currently the Interim Head Coach, or Billy Rowe, who is a Special Assistant to the Head Coach. A fan even stated that you would lose the whole fanbase and players by hiring someone from outside the program.

“FAMU is at a peak point in the school’s history,” Florida A&M Assistant Athletic Director and men’s golf coach Marvin Green said. “It’s an AD’s job to find the right people.”