FAMU athletics program hit with penalties



TALLAHASSEE – Florida A&M University will be banned next year from post-season play in major sports, will have records vacated for a dozen teams and will face financial penalties and scholarship reductions, after an NCAA panel found the school “lacked institutional control” and did not properly certify the academic eligibility of athletes.

Florida A&M and the NCAA announced the penalties Tuesday, with the school’s athletics department placed on probation for five years. The university said 93 athletes had been improperly certified as eligible to participate in 12 sports from 2010 to 2017.

Reasons for ineligibility

“The university certified student-athletes as eligible when they failed to fulfill required credit hours, did not complete required percentages of their degree by designated times, did not meet minimum GPA requirements and/or failed to meet transfer requirements or exceptions,” the NCAA announcement said.

“It also failed to certify a student-athlete’s amateurism status and allowed another student-athlete to compete after the student-athlete had exhausted all seasons of competition.” The post-season ban in 2019-2020 will affect the football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, volleyball and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams, the announcements said.

Among other things, the penalties include a 10 percent reduction in scholarships for the football program in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 and 10 percent reductions in 2019-2020 for the baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s track and field and volleyball teams. The university said on its website that it has taken a series of steps to address the problems in the athletics department.

Making changes

“FAMU Athletics has enhanced its compliance staff to include an associate athletics director for compliance, assistant athletics director for compliance and a compliance coordinator,” the website said. “They have been provided with the resources necessary to effectively educate and monitor for NCAA compliance.”

The NCAA acknowledged in its announcement that the university has made improvements. “Those improvements, however, have only recently brought the university in line with what the NCAA membership has identified as a fundamental obligation of all Division I members –properly certifying student-athletes as eligible,” the NCAA said.

“While we cannot change the circumstances of the past, we have accepted full responsibility for the infractions and are committed to running an athletic program that is in full compliance with NCAA rules and regulation,” said FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D.

He added, “Rest assured, we have taken significant steps to address these issues and reduce the likelihood of recurrence. We will meet and exceed the NCAA’s expectations to ensure that FAMU Athletics remains in compliance with its standards.”

The NCAA sanctions will not prevent FAMU from participating in the annual football Florida Classic against archrival Bethune-Cookman University, both institutions’ biggest athletic event.

Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.



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