CRISIS

Two audio recordings of internal meetings at Florida Memorial University prove that men’s football coach Timothy “Ice” Harris and women’s volleyball coach Marrita Crockett-Moulton have indeed been suspended, in direct contradiction to an FMU news release and social media posts disseminated on Oct. 8.

In one meeting with staff, athletic director Ernest Jones is heard saying that Harris was suspended “indefinitely.” In another meeting with the university’s human resources department, Jones said that he would become the interim head coach at the university.

Social media posts by a student during the controversy surrounding the suspension of FMU’s volleyball coach.

Multiple sources tell The Miami Times that Harris was reportedly suspended due to him not wanting to coach the football team after finding out there were about 30 players with COVID-19 on the team.

Crockett-Moulton was reportedly suspended because players on her team were openly discussing their concerns about playing during the pandemic after trying to speak with school administration.

FMU President Jaffus Hardrick refused to comment on the reasons for the suspensions, but told The Miami Times on Tuesday that the suspensions lasted only one day and sources confirm both coaches are back on the job.

Hardrick also told The Miami Times that cheerleading coach Kalyn James is on administrative leave without explanation.

Meanwhile, FMU Athletics also announced on Tuesday that FMU’s women’s volleyball and soccer programs have been cancelled, effective immediately, for the remainder of the season. Sources say that as of this week, three assistant coaches on the women’s soccer team tested positive alongside more than 10 players.

As one of the few HBCUs continuing fall sports, the COVID-19 cases on each team at FMU has concerned students and employees alike. Student-athletes who wish to remain anonymous out of fear of further retribution say they are upset at having their scholarships pulled for not being able to play on the team because they are either sick with COVID-19 or are afraid to play during the pandemic. Others are afraid to face consequences for speaking out.

Hardrick denies allegations of retribution and intimidation and said FMU is not forcing or asking any student who does not want to play to compete. He said no student has lost a scholarship for speaking their mind on social media. Hardrick also said the athletic director does not assign scholarships and that it is the head coach’s job to do that.

Students say the university president isn’t being truthful.

One former student-athlete, who has requested anonymity, tested positive for the virus last week after the entire team was tested.

“I’m a person that doesn’t really go anywhere, so for sure I got it from somebody on this campus,” the student said. “It was just heartbreaking; it was like I was told I had cancer.”

Following the results, the student was asked to stay in their dorm room and placed in isolation. After hours of not eating, the provost was contacted because arrangements hadn’t been made to provide meals to infected students. Meals finally arrived after the call.

Concerned about their well-being and knowing that this was not a sole experience, the student went on social media and began to post about how the university is putting students’ lives in danger by staying open and having in-person classes, despite possessing knowledge of the cases reported on campus.

That’s when the student says they were told they were off the team in a phone call from their coach and the school’s athletic director. When the student asked the coach why they were removed from the team, the coach admitted it was because of what was posted on social media.

“If you look at what I posted, it had nothing to do with the team or anything about the coach,” the student said. “There was no disciplinary action, they were just straight moving me off the team.”

An FMU employee, who also asked to remain anonymous, did not agree with the continuation of fall sports and, at first before the sports season began, was under the impression that no one would be playing because they could not imagine playing sports during a pandemic.

As they began to see how COVID-19 was spreading but games were not being postponed or cancelled, it reinforced their belief that what was happening was wrong.

The employee is encouraging students to speak out for their lives.

“These students are standing up for what’s right and they’re being looked at as troublemakers when they’re just fighting to be healthy. This is about their safety,” the employee said.

In an Oct. 11 coronavirus update to the university community by Hardrick, FMU said it would be implementing an online coronavirus dashboard and rapid tests in which results are provided within minutes.

Since last week, the university has reported 81 total positive tests out of 1,405 tests administered to students, faculty and staff.

Jones did not respond to a request for comment. The Miami Times is continuing to speak with FMU students and employees.

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