7-5 decision ruffles scheduling decisions

Updated: February 11, 2004, 1:33 AM ET
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida A&M board of trustees voted Tuesday to back the school president's recommendation to delay the football program's move to Division I-A.

The trustees voted 7-5 following an all-day meeting. They asked athletic officials to see whether the Rattlers would instead be permitted to remain in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Fred Gainous, who has been president of the school for 19 months, had urged trustees to put off the move from Division I-AA.

"I'm very disappointed," said trustees chairman James Corbin, who pushed for the move to I-A. "I think it was a huge mistake."

The vote came only four days after J.R.E. Lee III resigned as athletic director under pressure from some trustees dissatisfied with his performance.

Gainous said Tuesday that Joseph Ramsey, a sports management professor at the school, would serve in that role as a special assistant to him until a permanent successor is found.

Florida A&M is without a complete football schedule, but does have contracts with Oklahoma, Illinois, Virginia Tech and Toledo, the board was told.

The school has also signed letters of agreement with Tulane for a game to be played in Tampa and for a game in Miami against Florida International.

A Nov. 6 game against Toledo is the school's lone home game.

Getting MEAC schools back on the schedule for 2004 could be a problem because most have already filled the dates created by FAMU's intended departure to I-A.

Trustee Randy Hanna, who initially supported the move to I-A, was among those who backed Gainous.

"We got the cart before the horse," Hanna said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press