Robinson addresses challenges of COVID-19, athletics budget at FAMU


WATCH: FAMU President Larry Robinson discusses the newest Rattler football players during a National Signing Day event inside the Grand Ballroom.

Tallahassee Democrat

Florida A&M President Larry Robinson has dealt with his share of challenges throughout his tenure at the helm.

However, nothing he’s encountered from his office in Lee Hall compares to the trials stemming from the coronavirus.

The universal problems linked to the pandemic have uprooted the financial, cultural and social way of life on ‘The Highest of Seven Hills.’ 

Typical settings such as Set Fridays, tailgate parties at Bragg Memorial Stadium, homecoming festivities and fall sporting events are no longer a part of the university’s vibrant scene. These events were shut down in compliance with safety guidelines.

Robinson is saddened by the decision to eliminate these activities. However, he understands the overall health of students and staff is the main priority.

This past Friday, Robinson was a guest on Rattler Review, a FAMU sports talk show airing on 97.9 ESPN Radio Tallahassee. He discussed the shift in university operations and the economic ramifications of the pandemic. 

“Like institutions of higher education and other types of businesses around the world, we had to make a major transformation in light of COVID-19. Back in the spring, in less than two weeks, we went from in-person mode to 100% remote instructions,” Robinson said during the radio interview. 

“Since then, we’ve had the luxury of planning. The whole culture of our campus has changed. While it’s different, we’re still committed to the success of our students.” 

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Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson presents the State of the University Address at Lee Hall Auditorium, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.  (Photo: Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat)

In terms of FAMU Athletics, Robinson confirmed the department has a balanced budget. He credited Vice President/Director of Athletics Kortne Gosha and his staff for their fundraising and facility upgrades throughout the year.

Robinson also stated there’s a 30%-40% loss in revenue due to the lack of a football season.

The athletics department didn’t have any layoffs. However, there was a mandatory pay cut in salary for full-time employees. Additionally, the hiring freeze is still in place except for essential positions.

Free COVID-19 Testing at Bragg Memorial Stadium

Bragg Memorial Stadium isn’t completely dormant this fall. FAMU’s legendary football venue serves as a free COVID-19 testing site. The stadium has performed this act since April.  

People from across the Panhandle, south Georgia and southeast Alabama have been administered tests at Bragg. The collection of workers is a joint venture with the Florida Department of Health, Bond Community Health Center and FAMU medical personnel. 

Robinson praises the humanitarian efforts of essential medical staffers. He also recognizes the inequality when it comes to health care across race and economic lines.

“Not only is this virus evil, but there’s a disparity in terms of the impact on communities of African-Americans and Hispanics. It also hurts people with underlying conditions,” Robinsons said. 

“FAMU’s location was ideally suited for a community-based COVID-19 testing site. So many people in those demographics are in our midst. Having this on our campus has been a Godsend.” 


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