Below is a written statement from former Florida A&M coach Byron Samuels, who was fired by the school after going 17-71. He took over a team in total disarry in 2014.
Samuels makes good points in defense of his program. He faced, sadly, what a lot of athletic programs at HBCUs face, a lack of administrative support both financially and academically. This is Samuel’s statement:
BYRON SAMUELS STATEMENT
I have never had the need to defend my reputation or my name before. I started coaching in 1988 as a graduate assistant and my reputation as a leader, mentor, coach, and academician has never needed defending.
This statement is in no way writing to inflame, embarrass or hurt anyone. But rather state a few facts.
When I took over this job on June 14, 2014, less than three years ago. I stepped into a situation where:
1. There were zero players on the roster.
2. We inherited a schedule where we were on the road for 14 straight days, (16 out of 17 days). We returned five days before exams began.
3. We had NCAA academic penalties for two consecutive years.
4. There were limitations on practice. We began practice 14 days later than the initial start date, and it was mandated that we take an extra day off each week.
5. We were not eligible for post-season play for two years.
That first year presented many challenges and opportunities. With a new and rushed together group of inexperienced, not quite good enough crop of student-athletes, we fought, were exciting to watch and improved daily. From losing to NCCU by almost 50 points (we came close to beating them this year and last), we fought and gave everything we had right up until the very last game, a win vs. Savannah State. It was an unbroken group, full of spirit and hope. I am humbled and blessed to say that two players in that first season committed their lives to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Those are victories that change lives, change young men, and change families. I’m proud of that.
Winning takes time. Chickens can be produced in a relatively small amount of time and be ready to market in weeks. It takes years for an Eagle to become the strong, beautiful, majestic creature we know it to be. In the process of winning, there are up’s and down’s, rough patches and close calls. It’s going through the process that ultimately defines us. How we handle the low moments, it’s easy for most to handle the high moments. I believe we got through the tough times better than most.
In my time on the job, we improved academically. At no time did any of our student-athletes have issues with the law that was criminal or embarrassing to the university. We were compliant in every way with NCAA rules and policies that governed the university. We involved our program in multiple community service projects, from reading programs to supporting domestic abuse and more every year. We accomplished these things having four athletic directors in less than three years and with limited resources etc.
There was a lot of good that we were doing. The evidence is in the current state of the program, less than three years later.
1. It is poised to win, 10 of top 12 returning, 4 starters returning.
2. Two more graduates this spring. A total of six in less than three years.
3. Eligible for postseason for first time since 2013.
4. Two of the highest APR years since 2003, and the highest since 2012.
5. Seeds of faith planted and poured into the hearts of young men.
In life, you do not always get what you want. You don’t always get what you deserve, I’m thankful for that. Maybe we deserved a better fate, but my fate isn’t tied to the hands of people. Besides, there are a lot of people worse off than I am.
Lastly, Psalms 27:13 states, “I would have lost hope, (heart, faith) If Idid not believe I would see God in the land of the living.”
I see God everyday on this earth. From the hundred’s of phone calls, emails, text messages. Especially from former players, here and other places that offer their support. Most importantly from my wife, and family. I am at peace with how we operated our program. I am also at peace with what we attempted to accomplish and the success’s we did have.
So I offer thanks to those who assisted our efforts in any small way. You are appreciated. Thank you so much.