Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Two of the loudest defenders of Holmes’ firing shouldn’t have been hired at FAMU themselves

Kellen Winslow, Sr. and John Michael Lee were two of the loudest defenders of the decision to terminate former Rattler Head Football Coach Earl Holmes back in 2014. But Winslow and Lee were both poor selections for employment at FAMU themselves.

Back in 2012, Central State University President John Garland fired Winslow from the position of athletic director. Winslow responded by making a number of apparently bitter comments in the media.

The Springfield News-Sun reported on the back-and-forth between Winslow and the Central State president:

“I’m sure my termination is personal,” Winslow said. “It’s John taking a personal shot at me on his way out the door. I know I speak my mind and challenge people here ... and maybe that’s got something to do with it. Regardless, it’s wrong.”

Monday evening, Garland had a different take on the dismissal:

“Kellen is partially right. It wasn’t for cause or performance, but it wasn’t for personal reasons either. That’s not accurate.

“He may very well feel it’s personal — when things like this happen, people want to believe there has to be a reason like that — but it’s just about making a change. His contract was 2 1/2 months from expiring and I just view it as an early nonrenewal.”

Pressed on why that happened, Garland simply said: “Kellen is obviously very high-profile and has a lot going for him and I have no intention to hurt or harm him. I don’t want to put him in bad light or create a sense of turmoil at the university.”
FAMU President Elmira Mangum hired Winslow as her first athletic director in 2014. His condescending attitude toward Rattlers soon got him in trouble.

On October 28, 2014, Winslow confirmed that Holmes had been fired as the head football coach.  Over his nearly two seasons as head coach, Holmes amassed a record of six wins and 16 losses. Holmes’ firing came at a time when the team was showing steady improvement, having won two out of its last three contests and with the Homecoming game just four days away.

Winslow’s disrespectful treatment of Holmes and his decision to continue to make insulting comments about the university and its supporters finally led many FAMUans to lose patience with him. Hundreds of FAMU students and alumni booed Winslow at the 2014 Homecoming Convocation.

The FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) Athletics Oversight Committee approved a motion declaring that it had “no confidence” in Winslow on November 7 and recommended that the full board also support the action.

John Michael Lee came to the defense of Winslow in a November 8 email to the BOT. He used Holmes’ 0-5 start in 2014 as a reason to claim that the firing was the right thing to do.

“While I understand the point-of-view that the firing of Earl Holmes during homecoming was done outside of the normal ‘tradition’ of the university, I believe that the ultimate decision to sever ties with coach Holmes- the first coach in the 127-year history of FAMU to start the football season 0-5 and lead the team to an all-time low football attendance for the university- was the right decision despite the timing,” Lee wrote in his email to the BOT.

Lee added that: “I believe that the FAMU BOT Athletic Oversight Committee’s decision to issue a vote of no-confidence to athletic director Kellen Winslow – who reports directly to FAMU President Dr. Elmira Mangum- is simply ‘petty politics’ meant to circumvent the president’s oversight of athletics.”

The full BOT went on to approve a “no confidence” vote in Winslow on November 17. Winslow resigned in December and Mangum later hired Lee to a $130,000 job as assistant vice-president for alumni affairs at the university.

The 2015 Rattler football team under new Head Coach Alex Wood started out even worse than the previous year by chalking up a 0-6 record during its first games. It ended with a 1-10 record, which made it the first time in 72 years that FAMU won only one contest in an entire season.

The decision to choose Lee as the “New Head of Alumni Affairs” was suspicious because one of the most important jobs for any university’s top alumni affairs official is communication. Lee’s poor writing became the subject of a discussion at a June BOT meeting. At the meeting, then-Chairman Rufus Montgomery said that he was baffled by the writing problems that he saw in a November 8, 2014 email from Lee despite the fact that Lee has a Ph.D. degree.

Winslow and Lee are two of the last people who should have been criticizing Earl Holmes because neither one of them should have even been given serious consideration for jobs at FAMU.

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