TALLAHASSEE, Fla (Oct.12) - Beginning with the fall semester of 2011, FAMU Athletics entered a new era in its academic support system for FAMU student-athletes. Academic Support Services, which had been coordinated through the university's general studies program, was brought in-house. The athletic department's academic learning center has been relocated to the second floor of the Gaither Athletic Center.
With this new venture comes three new permanent employees. The group is headed by Brandi Tatum, who also doubles as the coach of the FAMU cheerleaders, comes with a wealth of experience. She was hired away from Florida State University, where she was the coordinator of academic programs for the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement. In that position, she assisted students, including student-athletes, with academic advisement, graduation preparation and career planning. Additionally, as the coordinator of the Summer Bridge Program, she helped prepare students for the transition to college. Her experience included working directly with students and engaging their deans and professors.
Travis Green who is no stranger to FAMU was a quarterback for the Rattlers from 1987-1991, and has been on the counseling and advisement team since 2004. Rounding out the team is Anthony Williams. Williams performed similar duties at Southern Illinois University. As a student services staffer, he monitored the academic progress of student-athletes, monitored community services and assisted with compliance.
The team is tasked with continuing the academic progress of FAMU's athletic programs. Derek Horne, director of Athletics, is excited about the staff being brought on board. "We always emphasize that our kids are students first, and with the implementation of this branch, we can be assured that any kid who seeks guidance or assistance with their academics, will have a top-notch system of support," Horne said.
The center is located on the second floor of the Gaither Athletic Center, on the corner section. The place where Dr. Beverly Barber once nurtured world-class dancers in the dance studio, has been transformed into a study hall classroom. The two adjoining classrooms that once housed health and physical education courses, now house the computer lab.
Horne feels the academic support system will not only help current athletes, but also become a viable attraction to parents of athletes. "When parents come on recruiting visits, they are often more concerned with how a particular school will assist their kids to graduate, than they are about them playing a particular sport. What this investment does for us, is give us the resources to help any one of our kids excel academically," Horne added.