UNINTERRUPTED releases documentary detailing FAMU Football eligibility issues
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - We’re seven games into Florida A&M’s football season. The Rattlers have rattled off five straight wins. This, after a tumultuous start to the season. A start, as many most certainly remember, that included eligibility and certification concerns of 26 football players.
Compliance issues that translated into players like Isaiah Land, BJ Bohler, and Cameron Covin not being able to suit up for their first game this season against North Carolina. It was a troubling time for a program that’s without question one of the premiere HBCU’s in the country.
Fast forward to present day. UNINTERRUPTED, an athlete empowerment media conglomerate spearheaded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, is stepping in to tell this story. Their mission is to empower athletes.
UNINTERRUPTED has released a documentary about what the FAMU Football program went through and the power that athletes’ voices can have in creating positive change. It is titled “Faith & Fight: FAMU Athletes Advocate for Change”. Above and below, you’ll see and read a snippet of what it details. You’ll hear from Florida A&M Football players Xavier Smith, Isaiah Land, BJ Bohler, Jose Romo-Martinez, Head Coach Willie Simmons, and President Dr. Larry Robinson.
You can view this documentary in full exclusively on UNINTERRUPTED’s YouTube Channel here.
One of the most challenging days in FAMU history. UNINTERRUPTED takes a closer look into what it was that went wrong.
“It wasn’t guys being ineligible. It was guys not being certified,” Star wide receiver Xavier Smith told UNINTERRUPTED, “They made it seem like, ‘Okay, these guys aren’t going to class, they aren’t doing everything that they are supposed to do’, and we were.”
Take star defensive end Isaiah Land, for example, who was the face of those deemed ineligible.
“I passed all my classes,” Land told UNINTERRUPTED, “There was no way I could be sat down because of their mistakes.”
“Coach Simmons called the seniors into a meeting that morning,” Defensive back BJ Bohler recalled to UNINTERRUPTED, “He said, ‘Guys, this isn’t fair. This happened to me 19 years ago, and it’s still happening to this day.”
It wasn’t just Land. It was 26 players not available for a game against an FBS opponent.
“It was devastating,” Willie Simmons said to UNINTERRUPTED.
“We came together as a team and we thought that we have to make a change,” Placekicker Jose Romo-Martinez detailed to UNINTERRUPTED, “We have to say something. We can’t stay quiet.”
They knew they had to make a stand. Originally, they decided to sit out.
“An hour or two later, like five people got cleared. Just within an hour of us saying we weren’t going,” Land recalled, “That opened my eyes because it wasn’t going to get handled. There would probably be 26 people still ineligible right now if we didn’t do that. I believe that wholeheartedly.”
After going to Chapel Hill severely shorthanded and opening eyes with just how well they hung in there with North Carolina, the players realized the power of their voices. This lead to the release of the player-written letter to FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson.
“We as a senior leadership group just talked and said, ‘How can we get people to hear us. How can we get people to understand what we’re going through and understand our pain.’” Smith told UNINTERRUPTED.
“Us doing that was just to really open the world’s eyes to what we go through as College athletes,” Land reiterated to UNINTERRUPTED, “I feel like most schools like Georgia or Alabama, they don’t go through this type of stuff as a team. I feel like that’s why they win championships. Those players don’t have to worry about being late on rent. They don’t have to be worried about their FAFSA check never coming in.”
“Some of us didn’t have summer aid,” Romo-Martinez continued, “Some of us were sleeping on the floor. Some of us were sleeping in the locker room because they didn’t have a place to stay.”
It wasn’t a personal attack on Dr. Larry Robinson, it was simply looking for support and advocating for themselves.
“This was young people saying, ‘Hey, these are some of the issues we’re facing and we need to figure out what we’re going to do about it,” Coach Simmons said.
“These are some very smart, capable, intelligent young men who brought some issues forward that we needed to take a look at,” Dr. Larry Robinson concluded to UNINTERRUPTED.
Dr. Robinson did end up meeting with the football team, as we at WCTV reported, to address concerns. As a result, the university took measures to beef up compliance units revolving around athletics looking to ensure that a situation like this never happened again.
UNINTERRUPTED’s mission is to empower athletes’ voices. There is no better example than what FAMU’s football team displayed to start this season.
Again, this documentary can be viewed in full exclusively on UNINTERRUPTED’s YouTube channel. That can be viewed here.
Copyright 2022 WCTV. All rights reserved.