Transcript controversy leads to two Florida A&M players losing their scholarships

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Introduced as the new head coach at Florida A&M in mid-June, Byron Samuels doesn’t have the easiest of rebuilding jobs in front of his as the Rattlers prepare for the 2014-15 season. Florida A&M is coming off a season in which they finished 14-18, going 8-8 in MEAC play, and with their top four scorers from that team having moved on the Rattlers have some questions to answer with regards to offensive production.

There’s also the program’s ban from postseason play due to its Academic Progress Rate numbers, meaning that the program can ill afford any missteps in the academic department. And with this being the case, it was announced Friday that two players are no longer with the program due to issues with their junior college transcripts.

According to the Journal News of Westchester County, New York, former Westchester CC products Jamell Walker and Damien Davis had their scholarships pulled as a result of the wrongdoing, which also cost a former Westchester CC assistant coach his job earlier this month.

WCC assistant basketball coach Richard Fields was fired Oct. 16 after admitting he provided a phony transcript for Walker and forged the signature of an administrator on an eligibility form for Walker, said WCC spokesman Pat Hennessey. Walker and Davis were juniors at FAMU, an NCAA Division I program in Tallahassee, Florida.

“He manufactured a fake transcript,” Hennessey said of Fields. “Jamell took one course here. The transcript said he earned a full degree and graduated.”

Davis’ transcript reflects “significantly more credits that he actually earned here,” said Hennessey, without being more specific. He did not say who WCC believed was responsible for altering Davis’ academic record.

With the departures that came as a result of the team being banned from postseason play, Samuels had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time in putting together a roster for the 2014-15 season. Losing two bodies doesn’t help matters, with FAMU now down to 11 players on its updated roster. Florida A&M was picked to finish last in the MEAC preseason coaches poll earlier this month.