Gibbs likely out as FAMU football coach


 Coach Gibbs. Photo courtesy: Fort Valley athletics

Fort Valley State University athletics has officially renewed football coach Shawn Gibbs’ contract, which should end the speculation that Gibbs will be named the coach at FAMU.

Gibbs was said to be FAMU Athletic Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes’ top choice to replace Willie Simmons, despite objections from numerous FAMU stakeholders.

In a statement posted Monday night on Fort Valley State’s official X account, the university’s Athletic Director Renae Myles Payne issued a statement addressing the Wildcat Nation, expressing her gratitude for Gibbs extending his contract.

In the statement Payne said, “Despite enticing offers from other institutions seeking his expertise, Coach Gibbs has chosen to stay with us. We were proud to secure his continued leadership.”

Gibbs was rumored to be the top pick to fill the FAMU head coach position following the recent departure of Simmons. With Gibbs’ renewal at the Division II school, it is highly unlikely Gibbs will be coming to FAMU.

As the coaching carousel turns, FAMU is still on the hunt for a new head coach who will be able continue the program’s remarkable success under Simmons.

FAMU players have expressed their support for current interim head coach James Colzie III to fill the head coaching position.  The players have expressed their will to continue with as many coaches from last season as possible to make another run at the SWAC and national HBCU championships.

Alumni have come out in support of Billy Rolle as the new head coach. Rolle, while not on the staff this season, came in with Simmons in 2018. He was a defensive coach and has a historic record as a high school football coach in talent-rich Miami. He was the special assistant to head coach Willie Simmons.

The Rattlers are in need of movement and a decision soon. National Signing Day is Feb. 7, and recruits as well as transfers are considering their decisions for the 2024 season.  Instability at the head coaching position would not be beneficial as players certainly want a program with a permanent head coach.

Instability at FAMU since Simmons’ departure for Duke on Jan. 1 has caused the program to lose players and a key coach.  Last week, recruiting coordinator Devin Rispress took the same position with Deion Sanders in Colorado.  He left at a time when there was turmoil at FAMU, and there was no guarantee he would have his position.

The FAMU Board of Trustees is holding an emergency meeting at 1p.m. today and an update on the coaching search is on the agenda for the meeting.

FAMU National Alumni Associate Executive Board Member and Corresponding Secretary Morgan Culler said, “I am happy for Coach Gibbs and the FVSU community. Anytime a coach receives an extension, congratulations are in order. As it relates to FAMU football, the search continues and I entrust our leadership to choose the right candidate to continue to lead our student-athletes in a positive direction.”