Saying that the dismissal of Ed Reed was “unjust,” Bethune-Cookman football players have petitioned the school to reinstate him as head coach.
A petition signed by more than 20 B-CU players read in part, “we firmly believe that the abrupt dismissal of our newly hired head coach Ed Reed is unjust not only to the student-athletes but to the entire BCU family, community and doesn’t align with our founders legacy.
“We would like to respectfully and firmly request his immediate reinstatement,” according to the statement. “We were witnessed to tremendous growth and a new direction in a short period of time.”
In an Instagram live video streamed Saturday morning, Reed announced that Bethune-Cookman would not be ratifying his contract to become the team’s next head football coach.
In a press release via the Ed Reed Foundation, he stated “after weeks of negotiations I’ve been informed that the University won’t be ratifying my contract and won’t make good on the agreement we had in principle, which had provisions and resources best needed to support the student-athletes.”
He said, “I was committed to coaching and cultivating a relationship with the university, players, community, and the fans. It’s extremely disappointing this won’t be happening.”
This comes in response to scathing remarks Reed made in videos regarding issues for which he has since apologized.
While the institution has not made a formal statement about the matter, several players have shared their thoughts on the situation through social media.
Freshman football player Branden McDonald told HBCU Sports Saturday night that Reed no longer being a head coach was “a slap in the face” after how he immediately connected with the team and had already made efforts to improve the program.
“It hurt us. It hurt us bad,” he said.
McDonald then went into detail about how much work Reed put in just a short time in Daytona Beach.
“Within a few weeks, he already had a new (practice) field being built and extended the training room and cleared it out and made things look more like a program,” said McDonald, adding that Reed likened a building the team used to hold meetings to a correctional facility. “He had changed a lot. When he came here, his energy just changed the morale of the school.”
Despite the uproar over Reed’s comments regarding the condition of the school that is believed to be the catalyst for Bethune-Cookman moving in another direction, McDonald explained that the statements were only made to influence change.
“I definitely agreed with what he said. Overall, what he said was 100 percent true,” said McDonald. “I think they (B-CU) were upset that he exposed how things looked here and they took it the wrong way when they should have took it as we needed to change.”
Prior to Reed’s arrival, McDonald described a Bethune-Cookman program that was reeling from a lack of administrative support amid mounting losses and having to play amid a pair of tropical storms that displaced the team for weeks and heavily impacted the campus.
Reed, he said, rejuvenated player commitment to the game and gave them hope that gone were the days when game helmets had to be shared and equipment was required to be reused out of necessity.
“Conditions are very harsh. Just football by itself — we shared helmets. We didn’t get (new) gear like everybody else. We didn’t get new cleats and new gloves,” he said. “Only a few players could get that. We had to travel 20 miles (outside of campus) to go to our practice field just to practice. It was just a lot.”
When asked whether school officials ever explained why conditions within the football program and on the campus at large existed in their current state, McDonald said answers from administrators were in short supply.
“They never gave us a clear explanation. But they always tried to tell us to just be grateful and that we complained too much,” he said, adding that the team had meetings with athletic director Reggie Theus who was described as one official who cared about athlete well-being.
“But we were just really trying to express ourselves. We felt like we were worth more than that.”
On Monday, athletes and students will participate in a campus protest to advocate for Reed’s return and demand change at the school.
“Our message is that we are ready for change,” he said. “And we felt they did our coach — somebody who is our savior — wrong, very wrong. This is not just for us, but for all HBCUs that are crying out for help. We are crying out for help.”