FAMU playoffs
2022 Football

FAMU players have a change of heart, travel to UNC game

FAMU and UNC will face each other in a Week Zero matchup in Chapel Hill. But the SWAC school will be severely hampered by eligibility issues.

FAMU is traveling to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina, but it will be heavily handicapped due to eligibility issues.

A tweet from Rattler Nation — a blog that closely follows Florida A&M athletics — fueled speculation that the SWAC school might actually pull out of the game with its ACC host due to a large number of ineligible players and the refusal of others to travel for the game. HBCU Gameday reached out to both FAMU and UNC to find out if there was any truth to a cancellation.

Officials at both Florida A&M and North Carolina assured us that the game was on. Shortly thereafter head coach Willie Simmons informed Allison Posey of ABC 27 in Tallahassee that there were 20 ineligible student-athletes due to academics or transfer eligibility. That total included a heavy blow to the FAMU offensive line.

FAMU Head Coach Willie Simmons
Florida A&M’s Willie Simmons talks with HBCU Gameday at SWAC Media Day 2021. (072121)

“After final certification of our entire team late last night, we were made aware that seven of our offensive linemen were deemed ineligible,” Simmons told Pete Thamel of The Athletic. “When you consider that three others are nursing injuries, that only leaves us with seven healthy eligible offensive linemen.

Simmons said there was talk of not playing amongst the players before cooler heads prevailed as FAMU’s President, Dr. Larry Larry Robinson, intervened.

“The players didn’t feel comfortable playing under those conditions and they are all understandably frustrated with many of our internal processes in the certification process, so they decided not to play. After a few more discussions with university leadership, including the president of the university, the players ultimately decided to play the game. I support these young men 100 percent in whatever they decide and I’m extremely proud of them for advocating for themselves!”

FAMU eventually boarded a bus and headed to the airport to travel to Chapel Hill. UNC is paying a $450,000 guarantee to FAMU for this game which was officially agreed on back in 2020. The game is set to kick off at 8 PM on Saturday night.

FAMU players have a change of heart, travel to UNC game
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