FAMU President Robinson Addresses Compliance Issues Following Locker Room Meeting With Football Players

September 02, 2022
President Robinson
FAMU President Robinson Addresses Compliance Issues Following Locker Room Meeting With Football Players

Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., committed to adding at least five more compliance officers and at least two more athletics academic advisers to assist with compliance issues facing the Athletics Department.

Those five additional compliance officers will work in tandem with the compliance officer for athletics and will be part of the Office of Compliance and Ethics, headed by Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer Rica Calhoun, Robinson said.

“We hope to have the first two or three compliance people hired within the next 30 to 45 days and the remainder by the end of the fall semester,” Robinson said. “It’s not so easy to get people, but we are doing our best to get people on the ground by the end of the semester.”

The additional five people would be just for athletics, Robinson said.

“We have committed to hiring compliance people to help with financial aid, academic progress, GPA issues and so forth,” he added.

 In addition, Robinson pledged to ensure that the University’s 18 academic advisers are trained in the complexities and nuances of advising student-athletes in terms of academic progression, GPA, and other issues. 

“Academic advisement is different for student-athletes than with typical students,” Robinson said. “I want our team to be working on behalf of each of these students.”

Robinson speaking to pressPresident Robinson addresses the media Tuesday, August 30, minutes after hearing student concerns.

Robinson spoke to the media following an hour-long meeting with football players in the Galimore-Powell Field House locker room. He had asked for the meeting a day after the players released a six-page letter airing a list of grievances and concerns, including eligibility, financial aid, housing, and even complimentary tickets for family members – that policy was reversed allowing four tickets per player for family members.

Robinson & SimmonsPresident Robinson and Coach Willie Simmons at Orange Blossom Classic festivities in Miami on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.

Disaffection among football players became public on Friday after they initially voted not to play in the season opener at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill when players learned that more than 25 of their teammates had been deemed ineligible to take the field. 

Robinson said it was necessary to have a face-to-face meeting.

“I wanted to come and talk to them in person and hear what their concerns were,” Robinson said. “I appreciated the letter, but I got more of the sense of their passion and urgency around the issues when I talked to them in person. I wanted to look them in the eye and hear from them directly and not try to have to interpret from the letter.”

Robinson was accompanied by several members of his Senior Leadership Team, including Calhoun, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maurice Edington, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs William E. Hudson, Jr., Ph.D., Chief of Staff Linda Barge-Miles, and interim Athletic Director Michael Smith.  Players were told to pass on their concerns directly to their coaches, Smith and Hudson.

Robinson said the hour-long exchange was constructive.

“We had the opportunity to hear from them and respond to them as well. It wasn’t just a listening session on my behalf,” he said. “We tried to let them know where the services are. It was a very understanding dialogue. One of the things I most appreciate is the professionalism with which the young men conducted themselves.”

During the press conference, Robinson responded to criticism that the administration neglects athletics.

“The misconception that we are not supportive of FAMU athletics, and we don’t care about these young men—that disturbs me the most,” Robinson said. “I know how much we do care about these young men and invest in athletics, and we will continue to work to make this program whole.”

To address the issues facing the Athletics Department, the University earlier this year approved the following new positions: assistant/associate athletic director for compliance; financial aid coordinator liaison in the Division of Student Affairs; assistant/associate athletic director of Compliance – eligibility;    a certification officer (liaison) in the Registrar’s Office, which is part of the Division of Student Affairs.