Robinson would like a full house at Lawson Center
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Since its opening nine years ago, the Lawson Center is yet to be filled up for a home FAMU basketball game.
It has long been one thing that diehard supporters of the basketball program have questioned. Losing seasons over at least the last five years has been the culprit.
But FAMU President Larry Robinson is optimistic that will change soon. He pointed to the Rattlers’ impressive postseason run in the MEAC tournament as reason why he is expecting to see the 9,000-seat arena filled up – or much closer to it than it has ever been — sooner than later.
“We have the best basketball facility in the realm of HBCUs and a lot of so-called mid-major programs that would probably like to have a facility of that caliber,” Robinson said at last week’s meeting of the 220 Quarterback Club. “We have to fill it up, though.
“We have to get more fans in there; people in there that enjoy basketball but we are going to have to do more in terms of getting there by winning competitions. Even games that people don’t think we have a shot at.”
Robinson went on to say that second-year coach Robert McCullum is the right fit for the program which has seen a high coaching turnover rate in the last six seasons. He also said that the expectation for all other sports is as high as those set for football.
The Rattlers’ track and field teams have been on a title-winning streak, as has softball which won two of the last three MEAC titles. Men’s tennis also won a title recently, but Robinson would like to see more winning across the board.
“Once we decided that we are going to have a softball team or baseball team, we are committed to the same level of excellence that we would for anything else at the university,” Robinson said. “If we are going to be a world-class institution, we should expect excellence with any team we put on the field.
“I’m just as committed to our tennis program as I am to our basketball and football programs.”
Of course, fund-raising was a big topic, too. Robinson praised a fund-raising drive labeled Tag Bragg as an initiative worth supporting. He and his wife were among the first to purchase banners through the program, he said.
Depending on the price of the banner purchased, it will be hung around Bragg Stadium with the buyer’s name.
Others, who buy at a lower price will have their banners placed along Wahnish Way.
Banners are priced at $5,000, $2,500 and S1,250. Supporters have until June 30 to make a purchase.
Robinson also praised the effort of athletic director John Eason for keeping spending to only the essentials.
“We have to make sure everybody understands that we plan to operate our athletics program with a high level of fiscal responsibility, a high level of integrity and emphasis on what’s most important,” Robinson said. “That is the academic success of our students.”