Florida A&M is still in the process of working to get many of the players ruled ineligible by the NCAA cleared to compete ahead of its much-anticipated rematch with Jackson State in the Orange Blossom Classic on Sunday.
The task, however, is uncertain and will involve a litany of petitions issued by the university and the SWAC to activate as many of the 20 players who did not suit up Saturday at North Carolina.
Rattlers head coach Willie Simmons on Monday did not specifically detail the reasoning behind why individual players were unable to perform but described them as “various reasons.”
“We know the reason for all of them and we’re working through some of those processes this week,” Simmons told the media during a virtual press conference. “I want to be clear in saying that we don’t have 26 ineligible football players, but (we) have 26 guys that have not been certified as able to compete for various reasons and a couple that’s academically ineligible.”
“Guys have certain issues within our university’s structure that is causing them to not be certified as eligible to play, and that’s the processes we’re working. Any time you’re a low-resource institution, we have to be creative and innovative in how we implement some of practices and policies to ensure that our student-athletes have the resources that they need.
Simmons explained that the SWAC is assisting FAMU in its efforts to restock its roster.
“We have the help of the conference office to assist in compliance to file wavers and get interpretations on rulings that will allow us to get some of these guys back on the field,” said Simmons. “As of today, there’s no change, but we’re optimistic that we’ll see some movement in the next few days.”
Simmons said the NCAA can rule on a player’s eligibility up until the day of the game.
Simmons revealed that there is a plan in place to get now-ineligible players back in case the NCAA ruled they can participate.
“We do have a plan that if we can get a few guys cleared after we leave for Miami then we’ll obviously have to get them down there as well,” he said. “We’re looking at our scheduled departure date and looking at if we’ll adjust it to get more guys cleared. We spoke with the athletic director and administration and have a plan that if we can get a few guys cleared after we leave for Miami, we’ll get them down there to participate as well. until kickoff to get them cleared. I’ll take a last-second addition any day of the week.”