Florida A&M University Athletic Director Milton Overton resigned yesterday, and will accept the same position at Kennesaw State University on Dec. 1. He told the Tallahassee Democrat that the move was to accommodate his family, to better support two sons and to grieve the death of his father two months ago.
Those things may be true, but they are parallel truths within the Rattlers’ cultural and political realities. Overton was a man fighting two wars simultaneously in Tallahassee, one against persistent alumni who rejected his vision for overhauling the athletic business model, and lawmakers who see FAMU growth in any form as a distinct threat.
Last year, Overton and the Rattler Boosters sparred over control of gameday parking revenue, a battle Overton ultimately won and resulted in the university’s Board of Trustees calling for an audit of the nonprofit athletic support association.
More than a year later, records showing Rattler Booster income and real donations to the athletic department remain at a premium.
Six months after requesting an independent audit of the Rattler Boosters’ finances, Florida A&M University trustees haven’t learned much. During a meeting of the BOT’s Audit and Compliance Committee, it was revealed the audit hasn’t progressed because the Boosters haven’t provided certain records. Where those records are, however, is anyone’s guess.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that some alumni involved with the boosters never forgot it, and those with ties to FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson never let him forget it.
But that’s just conjecture. More than Overton disrupting the Rattler Way was his ambitious and effective plan to disrupt the Tallahassee Way, which is in all things and all ways to support Florida State University. Last week, Overton revealed plans for a new all-sports facility, a $9 million upgrade that could add 2,000 seats to FAMU’s Bragg Memorial Stadium, replace Galimore-Powell Field House, and create new opportunities for low and high-level sponsorship with individual and corporate partners.
CLOSE If all goes according to Milton Overton Jr.’s plan, Florida A&M will have a new all-sports facility in 2018. Overton, FAMU’s athletic director since 2015, unveiled concept art and a financial plan for the facility, which would replace the decades-old Galimore-Powell Field House and add 2,000 south end zone club seats for FAMU’s home games at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
The plan proposes that the facility be financed with a mix of borrowed and donated funds from the university’s foundation. But word around Tallahassee is that the Florida Board of Governors disapproves of the expansion proposal, particularly as Florida State revamps its own athletics facilities profile.
Overton’s departure and the political nature of the FAMU presidential selection process, adds to the idea that there is no definitive view of how the Rattlers will proceed with facility upgrades, fundraising gains, or hiring in athletics. If the school is struggling to figure out who the next president will be, what does that suggest for its prospects at landing a quality athletic director?
Trustees at Florida A&M University are either doing the worst job of trying to elevate Interim President Larry Robinson to a title many feel he earned years ago, or the best job of shielding him and the school from the political danger which may surround his appointment.
What will be Alex Wood’s future as head football coach under an interim AD? How will donors, who under Overton increased giving to athletics each of the last two years, react to another leadership change? How many prospective ADs with fundraising, media relations and strategic planning skills close to Overton’s will now want to become FAMU’s third permanent athletic director in four years?
As usual, there are a lot of questions surrounding FAMU. And the guy who was the first person in a long time to provide solid answers just left.