Athletics director David Coburn praised the resilience of Florida State’s student-athletes as well as the dedication of administrative staff to serve the needs remotely as the university adapted operations due to COVID-19.
Coburn wrote a letter to fans, boosters and university officials on Tuesday afternoon in which he updated them on what has happened since college athletics halted games on March 12.
“We are going to play college football again,” Coburn wrote. “We are going to play basketball, baseball, run track, swim, golf and compete in the sports that make college athletics so unique. We will do so when it is safe. Naturally, I cannot tell you when that will be, but I can assure you we will be ready to go when it is safe.”
Coburn took time to cite the hard work from academics, nutrition, sports medicine, sports information as well as information technology. He also praised the response to helping student-athletes with their mental health needs. Coburn also said the “coaches have been nothing short of amazing during this crisis.”
A few weeks ago, Coburn detailed some of the financial challenges that FSU athletics was facing in a call with the school’s Board of Trustees. He reiterated in the letter that he is in regular contact with the ACC and FSU executive staff and stated “I cannot begin to help you appreciate the challenges that the senior staff at our universities are facing.”
In his address to the BOT, Coburn stated that the ACC distribution would likely be as much as $2.5 million less due to the loss of the ACC men’s basketball tournament as well as lost NCAA men’s and NCAA women’s basketball tournaments.
“I do know that the financial impact on the institution and athletics as a result of this crisis will likely be the most significant in the history of our program,” Coburn said. “We already know that ACC schools will be getting only part of the expected distribution from the NCAA this year, and we anticipate every area of our budget will be significantly impacted.”
It is expected that FSU will be able to make up the gap in the 2019-20 fiscal year as there is significant cost savings due to the lack of travel for athletics teams in the spring and coaches across the board not being able to leave Tallahassee to recruit due to both COVID-19 and the NCAA’s extended dead period, which goes until May 31.
The implications for 2020-21 are what FSU administrators and those across college athletics are examining and coming up with a variety of plans.
Below is the full text of Coburn’s email:
April 28, 2020
Dear Fellow Seminole,
The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically impacted all of us. The virus itself and the steps we are taking to minimize the impact have changed all our lives, and none more than those of the student-athletes for whom we all enjoy cheering every day. Thankfully, through our virtual interaction with our student-athletes, we have been reminded that with youth comes resilience. Our student-athletes are truly remarkable people.
Since we pulled our men’s basketball team off the court at the ACC Tournament on March 12th, I have started this message to our supporters several times, but kept waiting until I could pass along accurate information and precise plans. While I cannot offer those just yet, I do want to share some thoughts.
We are going to play college football again. We are going to play basketball, baseball, run track, swim, golf and compete in the sports that make college athletics so unique. We will do so when it is safe. Naturally, I cannot tell you when that will be, but I can assure you we will be ready to go when it is safe.
We have had continuous communication throughout the ACC on the issues we all face. We continue to be very proactive with the NCAA and our constituents concerning how we adjust to all the changes. We are insistent that the decisions made be in the best interest of the student-athlete, and the ACC has perhaps been the loudest voice in demanding that the playing field between conferences and institutions remain level.
I am proud of how our department has performed during this trying time. Our academic support unit was immediately ready with an excellent plan for shifting to the new online norm for our students, including a state-of-the-art system of online tutoring.
Sports medicine, guided by our team physicians, has been supporting our athletes both remotely and in limited hours at our training facility. Remarkably, they made rapid arrangements for follow-up care with physicians and medical practitioners near the students’ homes. I am particularly proud that maintaining mental health services for our student-athletes remains one of our top priorities.
Our sports information, marketing and Seminole Booster staffs quickly put together a plan to remain active on our social and digital platforms and have created unique content that has kept our fan base engaged. Our outstanding IT department is somehow making it all work. Seminole Boosters has done a remarkable job of maintaining outreach and communications with our donors and ticket buyers and integrating with what we are producing in athletics. These are not easy tasks during this time.
I am in regular contact with the athletic directors within the ACC, and with the university executive staff as well. I cannot begin to help you appreciate the challenges that the senior staff at our universities are facing.
I spoke remotely with our Student-Athlete Advisory Council (S.A.A.C.), which represents all our student-athletes. Not only are we able to gauge issues that we might not otherwise be aware of through this group, but it gives them a chance to relate what opportunities and challenges teammates have during this time.
Our coaches have been nothing short of amazing during this crisis. I could not be more appreciative of their attitude, support and focus during a time that is quite literally heart-breaking for those that were in season.
I do know that the financial impact on the institution and athletics as a result of this crisis will likely be the most significant in the history of our program. We already know that ACC schools will be getting only part of the expected distribution from the NCAA this year, and we anticipate every area of our budget will be significantly impacted.
We are facing many unknowns, but through it all, we are going to do the right thing for our school, our student-athletes, our boosters, our alumni, and our fans. We know that in many cases, our boosters and fans represent multi-generational support of FSU. For many, Seminole athletics is a deeply ingrained family tradition, and they have helped FSU through tough times before.
We miss you, our fans. We miss cheering at the games. We miss hearing the fight song.
We miss celebrating with other Seminoles. Perhaps the joy of great achievements will be all the sweeter when we join together again and do the War Chant.
Thank you for your support and for remaining loyal Seminoles while we are not playing any games. Both the athletic department and Seminole Boosters remain open for business, so please contact us if we can be of any help. And keep reading our stories on Seminoles.com, boosters.fsu.edu and all our social media accounts, which are illustrating just how deserving our student-athletes and coaches are of all our admiration.
Now more than ever, we are One Tribe.