Gainous thinks fall 2004 move too soon

Updated: February 1, 2004, 7:40 PM ET
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida A&M president Fred Gainous has recommended that the school's trustees delay their decision to move the football program to Division I-A.

Gainous, who has been president of the school for 19 months, plans to meet with trustees Monday about pulling back from an announced plan to move up from I-AA this fall.

"The proposed move to Division I-A has the greatest potential to threaten our capacity to carry out our great mission," he told trustees in an e-mail obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat.

Gainous cited a desire to devote more financial resources to academic programs. At least two trustees support Gainous' notion.

"It would be hard for me to see a situation where I would not support his recommendation," trustee Randy Hanna said Sunday. Added trustee R.B. Holmes: "I think it is a good idea to go to Division I-A, but I think we need more time."

Holmes said he still thinks FAMU should move up to Division I-A eventually, but not until the school's athletic facilities have been upgraded and the financial support of boosters has been strengthened.

Holmes also recommends that FAMU remain a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in all sports, including football. He said the school should put together a master plan for the next seven to 10 years before making another effort to move to Division I-A.

The decision to move up from Division I-AA cost football head coach Billy Joe several Division I-A transfers last summer because of newly toughened NCAA transfer rules.

The university has been under pressure from the Board of Governors, which oversees all 11 of Florida's public universities, for sloppy accounting practices. Gainous hired a new vice president for finance less than two weeks ago.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press