Willie Simmons commends his players ahead of meeting with FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson

(WCTV)
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 1:00 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - It’s been a tense few days for the FAMU Football team. Certification, compliance, and eligibility issues at the forefront of conversation for the Rattlers.

After the FAMU Football team penned an open letter to FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson outlining these various concerns, Robinson met with the team after practice on Tuesday. Before that meeting, we were able to catch up with FAMU Head Coach Willie Simmons to hear his reaction to the letter ahead of the meeting.

Coach Simmons is proud of his players for advocating for themselves. He says the University at-large has to put their heads together, because they obviously want the best and brightest to continue to come to FAMU.

“There are things that they [the team] feel aren’t contributing to their first class experience that we talk about here at Florida A&M. So, to address that is what I think they should do. As the Head Coach, it’s my job to support them,” Simmons said, “They’re not alone. There are other students in other sports that are coming out. I think the letter is getting more signatures as we speak, but again, it’s not an attack on the University or any individual. These young men are bringing attention to things that are affecting them at the end of the day. We have to be sympathetic to that because they are the product. Without the kids, none of us are here.”

Simmons says they are not a team full of bad students. It’s quite the opposite. Most guys are taking care of business in the classroom and their certification issues are outside of their control. It’s up to the University and everyone involved to give them the support they deserve. Ahead of the meeting with Dr. Robinson, Simmons says his team just wants their voices heard.

“They feel ostracized. They feel like they’ve been silenced. This is an opportunity for them to voice those concerns and get some answers,” Simmons said, “I’m proud of them for taking the meeting. Dr. Robinson called the meeting so I’m thankful for him for seeing the need to address these young men. I think collectively we can be the FAMU we all aspire to be.”

After the dust settled on Tuesday, it felt as if progress was made. Ultimately, time will tell. One thing’s for sure, Willie Simmons and the Rattlers are solely focused on the Orange Blossom Classic against Jackson State on Sunday.