Florida A&M Rattlers football demands support from uni president
August 30, 2022
The Florida A&M Rattlers football team wrote a letter to university president Dr. Larry Robinson after conceding a significant loss from the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Through the letter, signed by 88 players, the team demanded support from the university. It listed issues the team experienced, including academic support and compliance, financial aid distributions, summer school housing and meal plans, and ticket allotments for family members.
The team said that due to poor academic advice and compliance, the university declared 26 of its team members unable to participate in the game against North Carolina. They eventually lost 56-24 to the opponent, despite reportedly putting up “a good fight” at the beginning of the game.
In the letter, players wrote that having their teammates declared ineligible to play had been “damaging to the morale of our football team.”
"This narrative implies that we are not performing in the classroom,” the letter read. “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."
The team’s decision to play North Carolina came after “much dialogue” within the team. They said they did not play for the university’s sake, but instead for their families, classmates, fans, and coaches.
“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,” the team said. “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 coach Willie Simmons complimented the “character and resolve” shown by his team. Simmons also told reporters that his squad was frustrated by the internal situation at the university. That said, he said he felt proud of the team members for “advocating themselves."
Having decided to play the game, the Rattlers are scheduled to receive a guarantee worth $450,000 because the game was a part of North Carolina’s celebration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The Rattlers won the national championship 16 times, with the last time being in 2001. They also claimed the conference title 37 times.
The Rattlers concluded last season by finishing second in the Southwestern Athletic East Division, having an overall record of 9-3 and a conference record of 7-1.
They have several star players on the current roster, including Jeremy Moussa, who posted 28-of-38 for 279 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception when facing North Carolina last week. He defeated Resean McKay, who was last year’s starter, for the starting quarterback job.
Linebacker Isaiah Land, who was among 26 players declared ineligible to play, led the Rattlers’ defense last season by posting 19 sacks. He also received the Buck Buchanan Award for being the best defensive player. Before the start of this season, Land decided to return to the Rattlers for his final year despite initially putting up his name on the transfer portal.
The team will face the Jackson State Tigers on September 4 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.