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NCAA Approves Florida A&M For Division 1-A Football

July 21, 2003

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (July 21) -- Florida A&M University announced Monday afternoon that the NCAA Reclassification Committee had officially approved its'application to move to Division 1-A football.

The favorable ruling means that FAMU can proceed full steam with plans to play as a Division 1-A program next year. FAMU Interim Athletic Director Dr. J.R.E. Lee, III was elated at the NCAA'˜s decision Monday evening.

"This is a great day for Florida A&M Athletics and the University. The NCAA's decision will allow us to move full speed ahead with our plans to take not only football, but the total athletic program to the highest level," Lee said.

FAMU President Dr. Fred Gainous said of Monday's developments: "I am pleased with the efforts of the Board of Trustees and the Athletic Department in this historic move. The NCAA has placed the ball on the one-yard line and we are certainly going to score."

Florida A&M, which began Division 1-AA play 25 years ago (1978), has been a perennial Top 25 program since 1995.

Head coach Billy Joe was also excited about the announcement. "I'm extremely pleased that the NCAA has granted us Division 1-A status. This will immediately level the playing field for us in competition with other Division 1-A programs, especially in the area of recruiting," Joe said.

"We are aware that we must get our infrastructure in order, such as staffing, scholarships, coaches, funding and facilities before we can consider ourselves a full-fledged Division 1-A program," Joe added.

FAMU has played a number of Division 1-A teams since 1979, when they upset the University of Miami, 16-13, in their first-ever matchup against an upper division foe. In addition to the six meetings (1979, 1980, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2002) with Miami, the rattlers have also faced Temple (1986) and Troy (Ala.) State (2002). The University of Florida is on this year’s schedule, Sept. 13 at Gainesville.

Illinois and Oklahoma slated as opening road games for FAMU in 2004.

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