FAMU Board of Trustees tables ratification of men’s basketball coach Patrick Crarey’s contract

According to their meeting on Monday, the FAMU Board of Trustees opted to table the ratification of the contract of men’s basketball coach Patrick Crarey II until their retreat in August.

“At this point, given where we are and the concerns we all have about the process and the need for additional information, I move that we table this discussion until further notice from the chair of the appropriate date, and that can be as soon as our upcoming August retreat or before,” FAMU trustee Kelvin Lawson said.

Crarey was introduced as the Rattlers in April, and although the Board was set to ratify his contract, however, their reticence to do so stems from rumblings that one of his first acts as head coach was to dismiss 16 players from the team, accounts that were denied by Florida A&M Director of Athletics, Tiffani Dawn-Sykes. Additional concerns from the BOT stemmed from Crarey II engaging in coaching activities.

Gerald Thomas III of the Tallahassee Democrat reports that Crarey’s contract was to be enacted July 1, after the contract of former FAMU men’s basketball coach Robert McCullum expires on June 30. The agreement that Crarey II signed with the university in April was fully executed through the university through the proper channels” for Crarey to “operate and advise (Sykes) in some decision making as a volunteer,” according to FAMU’s Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Tiffani Dawn-Sykes.

AD Sykes added that the agreement was “fully executed through the university through the proper channels” for Crarey to “operate and advise (Sykes) in some decision-making as a volunteer.”

This is an issue with this in January 2023 the NCAA’s Division I Council voted to eliminate the voluntary coach designation across Division I, including these coaches within a new limit for countable coaches within each of the applicable sports. The Division I Council backed an increase of two additional coaches in both men’s and women’s basketball; these coaches are allowed to engage in coaching activities, but cannot recruit off campus.

Sykes responded to Board member Deveron Gibbons, who read the NCAA ruling directly from the NCAA website, saying “What that (the NCAA Division I voluntary coach ruling) essentially does is not eliminate volunteer coaches, but allows people who are operating, whether they’re compensated or not compensated, to have the same scope of responsibilities to those that are paid coaches,”

An additional point of contention was the circumstances that led to the state of the men’s basketball roster. As has been previously reported, the influential senior pastor of Bethel AME Church, Rev. Dr. Julius McAllister, wrote a letter to FAMU president Dr. Larry Robinson addressing his concerns over 16 players, one of which was his son Colin, being dismissed from the team. AD Sykes pushed back against the claims of the pastor, saying that when Coach Crarey entered into the volunteer agreement, there were 19 players on the FAMU roster- 13 full scholarship athletes and six walk-on or non-scholarship players. According to Sykes, there remain three scholarship players on the team, and “there’s an opportunity” for three of the six walk-ons or additional walk-on players to be added to the roster. AD Skyes relayed to the trustees that the scholarship athletes who are no longer with the program either graduated or entered the transfer portal.

“All of the student-athletes were not dismissed,” Sykes said. “It is not true that all of their scholarships were taken and all 13 people on scholarship were dismissed from the team.”

She adds that in a meeting with Crarey, she asked him to reduce the basketball roster from 19 to 16 to reduce the financial load on the athletic department and that she made the same request of former coach Robert McCullum.

Although his contract was not ratified at this meeting, the next stop for the former St. Thomas U coach is not the unemployment line, a la Fred McNair. President Robinson can elect to offer Crarey II a one-year contract, which would not require the board’s approval.

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