After playing North Carolina without 26 players in the lineup, the Florida A&M football team has written a scathing letter to university president Dr. Larry Robinson. The letter, signed by 88 players and obtained by Alison Posey of WTXL ABC 27, lays out a list of issues that the team wants resolved.
The letter addresses Dr. Robinson directly and lays out several main problems the team has with the university. They range from timely financial aid payments, academic support and compliance, summer school housing and meals, representation on the athletic director search committee, and ticket allotments for players' families.
Because of what the team says was poor academic advice and compliance, FAMU had 26 players ruled ineligible for its game against North Carolina. The Rattlers put up a good fight before the Tar Heels pulled away late to win, 56-24. The team said seeing the ineligible players maligned in the meeting was "damaging" to the locker room.
"It was very damaging to the morale of our football team to read on various media outlets, '26 FAMU Football Players Ruled Ineligible,'" the players wrote. "This narrative implies that we are not performing in the classroom. In fact, that couldn't be further from the truth. The issue at hand is not academic performance, but procedural issues within the registrar's office, compliance department and academic advisement."
Despite being down so many players, the team chose to play against North Carolina. However, the Rattlers said they did so for everyone else who supports them, not the university. The players also kneeled for the alma mater after the game, and they intend to do so until the problems outlined in the letter are addressed.
"On Friday, after much dialogue within our team, we decided to play at UNC," the players wrote. "We determined that we would not play for this institution, but for our families, teammates, classmates, our rabid fanbase, and our coaches who had prepared us and loved us. We played our guts out, and in the process, two of our teammates suffered season-ending injuries. After the game, we decided to protest the Marching 100's playing of the Florida Song and FAMU alma mater by kneeling during both songs. We will continue to do so until significant changes that facilitate a positive student-athlete experience are made. We will not sing a song that begins 'College of Love and Charity...' when we feel neither from this university."
Florida A&M will now turn its attention to its game against Jackson State, which kicks off at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 4.