Days after Florida Memorial University announced it would cancel women’s volleyball and men’s soccer seasons amid coronavirus concerns, the athletic program continues its upheaval.
FMU announced Friday that Ernest Jones, who had been at the center of allegations that the athletic department has failed to handle outbreaks that impacted several sports and athletes, was no longer with the program.
“Today, AD Jones resigned as the athletic director,” FMU President Dr. Jaffus Hardwick said in a statement. “I have asked Ms. Chevonne Mansfield, Deputy Athletic Director, to serve as the Interim Athletic Director to manage daily operations of the department.”
Until this week, Florida Memorial had been the only HBCU actively participating in athletics despite other historically black colleges deciding to compete in the spring in hopes the nation’s COVID-19 situation would stabilize.
The news came shortly after four coaches were either suspended or resigned due to the fallout of their alleged mishandling of the virus’ impact on the programs they led.
In recent weeks, athletes throughout several sports claimed the school ignored widespread coronavirus outbreaks within the athletic department.
Hardwick, in a lengthy statement posted on the school’s website Sunday, acknowledged what he described as “negative press and social media posts” regarding the school’s handling of the COVID-19, saying the reports were hurting its reputation.
“These communications imply that the University has not been forthcoming about the status of COVID-19 on campus,” Hardwick wrote. “It is not and never has been our intention to hide critical information from our University community. Please know that negative and inaccurate messaging is damaging to the University and hinders our ability to garner much-needed resources for our students.
Hardwick pointed to an off-campus event held in September that led to 69 student-related COVID-19 infections, though it is unclear whether student-athletes were among the cases.
The school has not announced when athletics will resume.