FAMU hit with hefty NCAA sanctions due to extensive use of ineligible players

The Florida A&M athletics program has been hit with some of the toughest sanctions in school history after the NCAA determined the school suffered from a lack of institutional control.

FAMU first self-reported extensive administrative errors that violated NCAA rules in 2015. The NCAA’s ensuing investigation found extensive problems within the compliance department, with the Rattlers failing to properly certify eligibility of athletes who competed in numerous sports. In one instance, the NCAA noted an athlete competed after already exhausting all eligibility. In other cases, athletes were allowed to compete despite failing to meet minimum academic requirements.

FAMU leaders stated they had already taken drastic steps to rebuild the athletics program, helping it follow NCAA guidelines moving forward. The Rattlers also emphasized the NCAA sanctions were due to mismanagement and not unethical behavior within the program.

“While we cannot change the circumstances of the past, we have accepted full responsibility for the infractions and are committed to running an athletic program that is in full compliance with NCAA rules and regulation,” FAMU president Larry Robinson said in a statement following the announcement of the sanctions Tuesday. “Rest assured, we have taken significant steps to address these issues and reduce the likelihood of recurrence. We will meet and exceed the NCAA’s expectations to ensure that FAMU athletics remains in compliance with its standards.”

The NCAA imposed the following sanctions unrelated to Academic Progress Rate sanctions already imposed on some FAMU sports:

-- Five years of probation.

-- A self-imposed 2019-20 postseason ban for football, baseball, men’s basketball, men’s track and field, women’s basketball and volleyball.

-- Vacating records for every contest that included an ineligible athlete. The university must provide a written report containing the games impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days.

-- A reduction in scholarships by 10% for baseball, men’s basketball, men’s track and field, women’s basketball and volleyball during the 2019-20 academic year.

-- A reduction in scholarships by 5% for the football program during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.

-- Recruiting restrictions for all sport programs during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.

-- A $5,000 fine plus 3% of the school’s total athletics budget.

FAMU asked the NCAA to waive the financial punishment due the program's limited budget and the action the school had taken to show it would comply with NCAA rules moving forward.

The NCAA, however, ruled the Rattlers had to follow minimum compliance policies and it couldn’t alter sanctions based on the school’s available budget.

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