Proctor asks BOT to help in settlement of payment to fired FAMU coaches
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
With the hardwood floor and basketball scoreboard at the Lawson Center as the backdrop, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor issued a statement of protest while making an appeal for FAMU to pay two fired coaches.
Proctor told members of the media last week that he has sent a letter to Kelvin Lawson, chairman of FAMU’s Board of Trustees, asking the board’s involvement in the matter. Proctor would like the board to take measures for FAMU to pay former coaches Earl Holmes and Clemon Johnson for time remaining on their contracts when they were fired.
Johnson, who coached the men’s basketball team, was terminated with one year remaining on his four-year contract. Holmes had two years left on his contract when he was let go, as head football coach during homecoming week in 2014.
“I’m not coming to another basketball game until Earl and C.J. get their money,” Proctor said. “I can’t do it.”
The amount owed to both coaches is estimated to be more than $500,000, most of it to Holmes. Both former coaches have hired attorney Tim Jensen to litigate their cases.
“I can’t say it’s going slow or sooner,” Jensen said, without sharing any details in the case. “We would certainly have liked to have it resolved before now.”
While he was aware of Proctor’s action, Holmes and Johnson said they weren’t informed of his meeting with the press.
“Coach Holmes and Coach Johnson appreciate all of the support and they both love FAMU dearly,” Jensen said.
Told afterward about the press conference, Holmes was succinct in his response.
“It’s good to see that there are still a few true Rattlers that understand excellence with caring,” he said, referring to the school’s motto.
Johnson said he’d hoped that FAMU would be more expeditious in settling his contract after he was fired last April.
“My point is this; if you don’t want to pay me, let’s go to court,” Johnson said. “Let’s hear what the judge has to say about it. Let’s get it over with. I’m tired of waiting (and) the constant put-off. There are facts and there should be some results.”
Proctor said his appeal to the BOT to get involved is a matter of principle and the university’s contractual obligation to settle the debt.
In his letter to Lawson, Proctor cited the legacy that Holmes and Johnson left at FAMU. Both played as Rattlers and went on to successful lengthy professional careers in their respective sport.
FAMU also has inducted them into its
Sports Hall of Fame.
“I call upon you to interject a metric of compassion, moral decency and golden rule in fulfilling the legal financial responsibilities owed to Clemon Johnson and Earl Holmes,” Proctor wrote in his letter to the BOT.
Proctor suggested that settling with the two coaches out of court could be a first step to correcting some of the ills in FAMU’s athletic department.
“There is karma over this university’s athletic program that we cannot prosper until we have made right the wrongs of contractual obligations,” he said.
“This is just about doing the right thing,” he said. “I’m asking Mr. Lawson to make this a priority.”