Overton: Classics will bring big cash

By St. Calir Murranie
Outlook staff reporter

So FAMU lost the game in Tampa two weekends ago against Tennessee State. Not much surprise there.

The stunner actually came a week later when Milton Overton, FAMU’s athletic director who is on a mission to make major improvements, showed up at the 220 Quarterback Club’s week luncheon.

He seemed harried, but every word he said was clear. And, the unexpected announcement that he made was that the inaugural Tampa Classic cleared $650,000.

That’s almost three times more than FAMU’s 2016 homecoming game generated. From a packed Bragg Stadium no less.
So how?

Overton was somewhat rhetorical in his response.

He asked his audience how did FAMU fans pack out Bragg and made less than they did in the Tampa Classic, answering before anyone in the dining room at New Times Country Buffet could answer.

It’s the premium seating at Raymond James Stadium that made the gate receipts much larger than expected. Bragg doesn’t offer that luxury.

Overton wants to change that and the Tampa Classic was just a small part of his plan for doing so. The other part is his plans to revive the Atlanta Classic next season.

Together, he figures the classics would bring in enough cash to begin upgrading Bragg.

He will announce FAMU’s opponent following this year’s homecoming game, he said.

Fans can’t wait. You know how they turned out for the Atlanta Classic in years past when FAMU made millions of dollars for the 100 Black Men of Atlanta.
This time around FAMU will own the Classic. Just like it does the ones in Tampa and the Jake Gaither Classic that opened the season with a game against Texas Southern.

All part of a big picture that will give FAMU a little more control of its financial destiny, Overton said.

It makes sense that he eventually would like to do away with having the Rattlers play big programs for the money. It makes even more sense because as the classics grow they’ll bring in more cash.

More money means that Overton could move ahead with plans to invest $9 million into renovations sooner than later. And, with premium seats at that.
“We are looking for financial freedom,” he said. “The freedom to play who we want to play, when we want to play and to generate max dollars more than for (playing) any of the power five conferences and some of those other games we play.”

Right now, though, he’s banking on the football program to win enough games to help keep the diehards in the fold.

In other words; be patient

“I believe we have a team that has the capacity to do that,” he said, speaking of winning more than they lose. “Now it’s up to them to do that. It’s up to  the coaches to call the right plays. It’s up to the players to execute.”

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