'Tough’ decision as Florida A&M cancels its spring football season

Rattlers make call to not play football; track and volleyball also scrapped for the academic year

FAM-U is asking alumni and donors to help keep its programs alive through the pandemic.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There’s more COVID testing than football going on at Florida A&M University’s Bragg Stadium and that will remain the case for the coming months after the university has officially canceled the Rattlers season that was postponed to the spring.

Citing health and economic concerns, FAMU canceled its plans to play any football in the 2020-21 school year. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference had released its spring football schedule last month featuring a six-game regular season. FAMU was ranked No. 25 in the FCS coaches last season after finishing 9-2.

The Rattlers' first season of varsity football was in 1906. It follows rival Bethune-Cookman’s similar move late last month to cancel all sports for the remainder of the academic year. B-CU and FAMU’s Florida Classic is a casualty of the decision.

“This decision was certainly tough,” said Kornte Gosha, FAMU vice president and athletic director.

Gosha said after seeing other teams across the state face cancellations and even layoffs to make their football seasons happen, the university had to make the call.

“This decision was really based off health and safety and our ability to provide a successful environment for our student-athletes,” Gosha said.

Larger universities like Florida State University said they have no plans to alter their seasons, currently underway.

University of South Florida head coach Jeff Scott told News4Jax they are confident the season will continue.

“It’s all about our current procedures that we have in place and we are fortunate that we have USF Health on our campus,” Scott said.

But he didn’t rule out the possibility of a change in the future.

“In 2020, nothing is guaranteed,” said Scott.

Unlike the larger universities, FAMU doesn’t have the TV and multimedia contracts that could have made a spring season safe and economically viable.

“I mean it’s very clear, had we played spring football, our football program, in particular, would have operated at a loss,” said Gosha.

In addition to football, FAMU also canceled spring season for indoor track and field and volleyball.

The university is hopeful, however, sports will be able to return next fall.

FAMU is asking alumni and donors to help keep their programs alive through the pandemic.

The university is encouraging supporters to donate to the Rattler Athletic Fund.