Against the Grain II

FAMU’s high academic standards are
great for the school, challenging for athletics

Vaughn Wilson

Florida A&M University has consistently risen to the top of the national rankings for academics. Improving everything from graduation rates to college entrance GPA, FAMU is an elite school for academics, requiring an impressive resume to gain entrance. Florida A&M University is a school first and the academic profile of the school is safe and secure. U.S. News and World Report ranks FAMU as the top public HBCU for the third consecutive year, while overall it is ranked on the cusp of breaking into the Top 100 at 104 for all schools.

Kudos to the president, provost and the academic entity that is FAMU’s academic leadership because that is the ultimate goal of any university.

The byproduct of that success and increased academic benchmarks is a reduction in the pool of athletes you can bring into your university. FAMU has now become the Notre Dame, Harvard or Stanford academic benchmark for HBCUs.  

Satisfying the NCAA clearinghouse and NCAA requirements doesn’t begin to gain you admission to FAMU.  It gets very confusing to parents, alumni and fans as they try to send their children, family members or neighbors to school on “The Hill.” 

The reality is FAMU has become an elite academic institution.

It gets more complicated by announcements on social media. Great athletes declare their commitment to FAMU only to find in the final stages that they do not qualify. Fans get excited and then find themselves saying “What happened to…”

For coaches at FAMU, it causes heartache when an athlete that they wanted to play on their team ends up on an opposing squad. The motivation of that athlete is undeniable. The prime example is former Georgia Southern quarterback Tracy Ham.  

Ham was an explosive quarterback in the 1980s. He guided GSU to two NCAA Division I-AA titles (1985,1986). More importantly, he was motivated to dominate FAMU every time they played because of his inability to be on the Rattlers’ squad.  

Over the last few weeks, I have noticed several athletes that had committed to FAMU on their Twitter accounts who are now playing for other schools. A couple of those players now wear maroon and gold for Bethune-Cookman. Know that those players will play with that added energy like Ham, who torched FAMU during his tenure at Georgia Southern

The university has to go about the business of the university. The goal of universities is to attain the highest academic standards they can attain and sustain. There is no flinch in the minds of the leadership of the institution to maximize the university’s academic profile.

Just keep in mind that as the benchmarks increase, the pool of athletes who could be recruited diminishes.


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