Florida A&M football head coach Willie Simmons looks on during the Orange and Green Spring Game at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida, Saturday, April 15, 2023

Willie Simmons

Florida A&M resumes football activities as rap video investigated

The Florida A&M football team can resume activities Tuesday while the university continues to investigate the unauthorized filming of a rap video, athletic director Tiffany-Dawn Sykes said Monday.

Florida A&M had suspended all football-related activities until further notice on Friday after a rap video with explicit lyrics was filmed in the team’s locker room without authorization and released online.

Coach Willie Simmons announced the program’s halt Friday night, just hours after the release of the video for “Send A Blitz” from rapper Real Boston Richey.

In the video, Richey is seen in the locker room at Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse on the Florida A&M campus in Tallahassee. Richey is wearing a Florida A&M shirt as well as helmets bearing the team logo. Several Florida A&M football players can be seen in the video but have not been identified by the school.

“An investigation into the unauthorized video that was partially filmed in the football locker room is being led by the University’s Office of Compliance and Ethics,” Sykes wrote on her and the athletic department’s Twitter accounts. “Since this is an ongoing investigation, no further comment can be shared at this time.

“In my role, I have been transparent with stakeholders and this time will be no different. I will make myself available for comment at the conclusion of the investigation.”

In his statement posted to Twitter last Friday, Simmons said the video was made “without proper authorization” and that a forthcoming investigation will look into who authorized the use of the locker room as well as the use of team apparel, which “potentially violates university branding and licensing agreements.”

Though Simmons said he supports “free speech and … all forms of musical expression,” he expressed disappointment that the content of the video was not in alignment with the university’s image.

The video contained graphic language that “is not consistent with Florida A&M’s core values, principles and beliefs,” Simmons’ statement said.

Richey is a local of Tallahassee whose real name is Jalen Foster. He performed at Florida A&M’s homecoming game last season.

The Rattlers’ head coach and selected players planned to be in attendance Tuesday at the Southwestern Athletic Conference football media day in Birmingham, Ala. The team’s first practice is slated for Aug. 4.

Simmons is entering his sixth season as head coach of Florida A&M and has a 33-12 record. The Rattlers open the season Sept. 3 against Jackson State at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

–Field Level Media

Florida A&M football Willie Simmons talks to campers following his RAC BOYZ 2.0 7-on-7 Camp at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida, Saturday, June 10, 2023

FAMU suspends football activities after locker room rap video

Florida A&M suspended all football-related activities until further notice after a rap video with explicit lyrics was filmed in the team’s locker room without authorization and released online.

Coach Willie Simmons announced the program’s halt Friday night just hours after the release of the video for “Send A Blitz” from rapper Real Boston Richey.

In the video, Richey is seen in the locker room at Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse on the Florida A&M campus in Tallahassee. Richey is wearing a Florida A&M shirt as well as helmets bearing the team logo. Several Florida A&M football players can be seen in the video.

In his statement posted to Twitter, Simmons said the video was made “without proper authorization” and that a forthcoming investigation will look into who authorized the use of the locker room as well as the use of team apparel, which “potentially violates university branding and licensing agreements.”

Though Simmons said he supports “free speech and … all forms of musical expression,” he expressed disappointment that the content of the video was not in alignment with the university’s image.

The video contained graphic language that “is not consistent with Florida A&M’s core values, principles and beliefs,” the statement said.

Simmons said he hopes the Florida A&M athletes will learn from the experience.

“It is a privilege to wear the orange and green and as a football program, our young men have failed to live up to the standard set before us,” Simmons said in the statement. “They will all learn from this mishap and we will continue to work hard every day to become the best version of ourselves and continue to make Rattler Nation proud.”

Richey is a local of Tallahassee whose real name is Jalen Foster. He performed at Florida A&M’s homecoming game last season.

Simmons is entering his sixth season as head coach of Florida A&M and has a 33-12 record. The Rattlers open the season Sept. 3 against Jackson State at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

–Field Level Media

Former Bengals Chad Johnson watches warmups before the first quarter of the NFL Week 4 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins at PayCor Stadium in downtown on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

Miami Dolphins At Cincinnati Bengals Week 4

Florida A&M hires Chad Johnson as ambassador

Former NFL All-Pro receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson will serve as an ambassador and consultant for Florida A&M.

The school announced his appointment Wednesday night.

“Anyone familiar with Chad knows that he has always been a great ambassador for FAMU,” athletic director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes said in a news release. “It’s time to make it official. I am happy that we could reach an agreement to formalize his role with the University.”

Johnson, 45, will take part in special projects as identified by Sykes.

Raised in Miami, Johnson didn’t attend the school but is a longtime fan of the program. He played in community college and then one season at Oregon State.

“I fell in love with FAMU after attending my first Classic in 1984 with my grandma, and the rest is history,” Johnson stated.

Johnson was a second-round draft pick by the Bengals in 2001 and had seven 1,000-yard seasons in Cincinnati before spending his final NFL season with the New England Patriots in 2001.

He finished his career with 766 receptions for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. He remains the Bengals’ franchise leader in many statistical categories, including career receptions (751), receiving yards (10,783) and receiving touchdowns (66).

More recently, Johnson was an analyst for Fox Sports during the 2022 World Cup.

–Field Level Media

Aug 27, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) throws a pass during the first half against the Florida A&M Rattlers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Drake Maye (5 TDs) leads North Carolina rout of FAMU

Redshirt freshman Drake Maye threw for five touchdowns in his first college start as North Carolina pulled away from short-handed Florida A&M to begin the season with a 56-24 victory Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Florida A&M, a Football Championship Subdivision team, was without about 20 players because of various eligibility issues. Those problems put the game’s status in jeopardy a day earlier before it was confirmed that the Rattlers would make the trip.

Josh Downs caught two of Maye’s touchdown throws, the first coming with five seconds to play in the first half. The next came in the fourth quarter.

Maye, a younger brother of former North Carolina basketball player Luke Maye, finished 29-for-37 passing for 294 yards through the air. He also gained 55 yards on four carries.

No North Carolina player had ever thrown for five touchdowns in a season opener. Maye also became the school’s first player to toss five touchdown passes in his first career start.

Florida A&M quarterback Jeremy Moussa threw for two touchdowns with an interception. He was 28-for-38 for 279 yards.

Maye’s other touchdown throws went for 19 yards to Kamari Morales, 23 yards to Bryson Nesbit, four yards to Gavin Blackwell and two yards to Josh Downs.

North Carolina running backs Omarion Hampton (1-yard, 25-yard TD runs) and George Pettaway (29-yard run) scored in their first career game. Hampton ran for 101 yards.

Even with Florida A&M limited in depth on the offensive line because of the unavailable players, the Rattlers compiled 353 yards of total offense.

Moussa tossed touchdown passes of 17 yards to AJ Davis and 22 yards to Tre Davis, the latter closing the gap to 35-24 late in the third quarter.

Jaylen McCloud had a 5-yard touchdown run for the Rattlers.

The Tar Heels lost starting cornerback Tony Grimes to an upper-body injury early in the game.

This was the first football meeting between Florida A&M and North Carolina.

–Field Level Media

Florida A&M Rattlers quarterback Cameron Sapp (2) waits for the snap during a game between Florida A&M University and Alabama State University at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Famu Vs Alabama State 100221 490

Eligibility issues nearly led Florida A&M to back out vs. North Carolina

Florida A&M decided to travel for Saturday’s game at North Carolina after initially considering backing out of the game due to a slew of ineligible players.

The Rattlers decided Friday afternoon to make the trip, ABC27 in Tallahassee reported. The station displayed video of the team boarding a bus for the trip to the airport at around 3:40 p.m. ET.

The decision came after coach Willie Simmons reportedly left it up to the players to choose whether or not to play.

Florida A&M is slated to receive $450,000 for playing in the contest at Chapel Hill, N.C. It is billed as the HBCU Celebration Game with the Rattlers being among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Simmons told ABC27 that there 20 ineligible players in the program due to academics or eligibility after transferring. Simmons said the team has just seven eligible offensive linemen.

ABC27 reported that FAMU has just one academic advisor in the athletic department.

“The responsibility ultimately falls on the student athlete, but without support, it is really, really hard to juggle all they have to juggle and still maintain satisfactory academic progress and still compete at the highest level,” Simmons told the station.

Florida A&M went 9-3 last season and lost to Southeastern Louisiana 38-14 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

North Carolina went 6-7 last season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Cade Fortin (6) drops back against the Florida Gators during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

QB job up for grabs as USF hosts Florida A&M

South Florida coach Jeff Scott closely evaluated his quarterbacks this week as the Bulls prepared to host Florida A&M in a nonconference contest Saturday night in Tampa, Fla.

Cade Fortin has started the first two games and completed 12 of 18 passes for 91 yards in last weekend’s 42-20 loss to Florida. Timmy McClain relieved him in the second half last week and led the Bulls to 17 points, completing 4 of 10 passes for 83 yards.

“We’re not going to name a starter right now,” Scott said this week. “Obviously, we’ve evaluated and learned some things from this last game. Really, we are challenging all the quarterbacks in that room to have a great week and see just who does the best job for the game plan this week.”

Katravis Marsh completed his only attempt in his first appearance last week. Ridge Jacobs has not played.

“We’ll put somebody out there first and if they do well, they’ll be the starter,” Scott said. “If they don’t, we’ll continue to give guys opportunities until somebody steps up and takes the job, which needs to happen here pretty soon.”

The Bulls (0-2) have lost 10 consecutive outings, but Scott thinks the second-half play against the Gators could be a pivotal point in their season after a 45-0 thumping by North Carolina State in the opener.

Interceptions by safeties Mekhi LaPointe and Brock Nichols sparked the second-half surge against Florida. Jaren Mangham scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 2 yards, and Xavier Weaver had two catches for 68 yards along with a 45-yard punt return.

Florida A&M (1-1) also showed some progress in its second game, bouncing back from a 7-6 loss to Jackson State to register a 34-7 win over Fort Valley State. The Rattlers scored 27 points in the second half.

“The defense played phenomenal for two weeks in a row, creating turnovers and collecting some sacks,” FAMU coach Willie Simmons said. “We still have a lot of work to do offensively. Need to fine-tune the details and play more consistent upfront.”

The coaches know each other well, as Simmons and Scott were teammates for three years at Clemson.

“We came in the same year (1999) in the same class,” Scott said. “He was a quarterback and I was a wide receiver.”

–Field Level Media

Florida A&M pulls out of spring football

Florida A&M will not take part in the planned football season in spring 2021.

Athletic director Kortne Gosha made the announcement Tuesday evening, adding the Rattlers’ volleyball and indoor track and field also won’t compete as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

“Florida A&M Athletics’ decision to opt-out and forgo the 2021 spring football, indoor track & field and volleyball season was made with the health and safety of our student-athletes as our top priority. This was a collective decision with our coaches and staff, given the varying circumstances that COVID-19 has created for our program,” Gosha said. “We are certainly disappointed that some of our student-athletes will not be able to compete this year; however, we will shift our focus to achieving our academic priorities while planning a safe return to play in fall 2021.”

This was to be the school’s final season as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Another MEAC school, Bethune-Cookman, announced last week that it canceled all sports for the 2020-21 academic year.

Both Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman are moving to the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2021.

–Field Level Media