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FAMU will hire more compliance and academic advisors after 20 football players missed the season opener

A red-brick marquee has golden letters that read "Florida A&M University". This marquee stands in front of bushes that spell the word, "FAMU".
Lydell Rawls
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University President Dr. Larry Robinson says the school will hire more compliance officers and academic advisors to work directly with the athletics department. The move comes after about 20 players were deemed ineligible to play at the school’s first game of the season last weekend. In response, football players issued an open letter to Robinson stating they will protest after games until problems around academic advisement and compliance are fixed.

The eligibility debacle nearly resulted in FAMU not being able to play the University of North Carolina last weekend. That match netted the school $450,000. But it also left the team with few backup options in key positions. Several players were injured and two suffered season-ending injuries.

In their open letter to Robinson, players stated that bad academic advice landed some players—Isaiah Land and Cameron Covin—to be just a few credits shy of eligibility. Both have retained an outside attorney to represent them in an effort to restore their eligibility with the NCAA. Their attorney, Tom Mars, has been chastising FAMU officials on his Twitter account for not moving faster to clear paperwork that will allow Mars to work with the NCAA on the players’ behalf.

The players also stated their disappointment with not being able to have access to on-campus housing and meal plans during the summer and a reduction in the number of tickets they can give to their families.

Robinson met with the players Tuesday and local media afterward. He said the athletics department is restoring the number of tickets players can give to their families from two, to four per player. He also said the university expects to hire at least five new compliance officers within the next 45-60 days. That’s an increase of five people. There will be another two dedicated academic advisors to athletics, while all advisors will receive training on NCAA rules.

The program is also planning to submit several more players for waiver exemptions to the NCAA by Wednesday, though Robinson says the school has to be careful “not to send the wrong message to the NCAA” by requesting too many waivers for student-athletes.

The president also addressed the ongoing campus housing shortfall, which was recently exacerbated after a fire resulted in a dorm being completely evacuated, and a pest infestation clearing out another. Students have taken to social media to complain about poor transportation services getting onto and off of campus.

“Those students in Phase 3 will be moving back on Thursday,” Robinson said of the pest infestation that cleared the dorm and resulted in the school having to fumigate the building.

For the students who had to leave Polkinghorne due to the fire, “those students should be back next week.”

Robinson says the school has provided transportation, and food through the meal plans and is trying to get students back on campus “soon.”

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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