Florida A&M briefly suspended its football program after a professional rap video was allegedly filmed in the team's locker room without authorization by the university.
FAMU coach Willie Simmons announced that they were suspending all football activities and shutting down access to its facilities. A team meeting was scheduled for Monday, which is when athletic director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes said the team would be allowed to resume activities, per ESPN.
Simmons said the school is investigating allegations that a "prominent rapper" used Florida A&M property and licensed apparel with the university's branding during the video, which also contained "graphic language that is not consistent with Florida A&M's core values, principles and beliefs." The investigation will also determine who allowed the rapper onto campus.
"Although I am a proud proponent of free speech and support all forms of musical expressions, this football team (as ambassadors of Florida A&M University) has a responsibility to protect the University's image," Simmons wrote. "As a result of this unfortunate situation, as head football coach I am effectively suspending all football related activities until further notice. It is a privilege to wear the Orange and Green and as a football program our young men have failed to live up to the standard set before us."
While not named in Simmons' statement, the rapper is believed to be Jalen Foster, a Tallahassee, Florida, native who goes by Real Boston Richey. Florida A&M's campus is also in Tallahassee. Foster released a music video for his song, "Send A Blitz" on Friday afternoon, hours before Florida A&M suspended team activities. The video includes scenes from Florida A&M's locker room as well as school-branded apparel and equipment. He wrote on Instagram that the video was filmed in less than a day.
Simmons, who has been FAMU's coach since 2018, did not offer a timetable for when the team would resume football activities in his statement. Media day for the Southwestern Athletic Conference is scheduled for Tuesday, while players are expected to report to training camp Aug. 2 and the Rattlers open the season Sept. 3 against Jackson State.
This is the second consecutive year that the start of Florida A&M's season has begun with controversy. More than 20 players were academically ineligible to play in the Rattlers' 2022 season opener against North Carolina. The team was originally going to forfeit the game but Florida A&M decided to play and lost 56-24. The Rattlers went on to finish the season with a 9-2 record and lost just one game to an FCS opponent.