While Florida A&M University has welcomed in new athletic director Michael Smith, some at FAMU have been left puzzled by former AD Kortne Gosha’s departure. Get the full story from Jim Henry and Byron Dobson at the Tallahassee Democrat below.

Photo: FAMU Forward

Kortne Gosha’s tenure as FAMU’s Vice President and Director of Athletics ended after less than three years Wednesday as he announced his resignation. 

Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson named Michael Smith as interim athletic director. Smith, a veteran FAMU employee and former interim athletic director in 2013, was serving as the university’s assistant Vice President, Finance and Administration. 

The university said in a statement that it plans to conduct a swift national search to find a replacement. 

Gosha – hired in December 2019 from the University of Miami – oversaw the day-to-day facility and event operations, grounds, custodial, information technology, access control and capital projects for the Rattlers.

He was in the final months of his three-year contract that paid $200,000 annually. 

A mandatory athletics staff meeting for FAMU coaches and staff was hastily scheduled  Wednesday afternoon. Gosha attended and announced his resignation.

“Extremely disappointing,” said FAMU football coach Willie Simmons, who had a close working relationship with Gosha.

“Obviously, when you work closely with a guy that you believe in and see firsthand the work that’s being done and the daily improvements to this program. It’s disappointing to see things transpire the way they have. It’s tough. You put all your blood, sweat and tears into something and you don’t see the end result of it. It was tough for him. I could see the emotion.

“We all felt it too.” 

Gosha also released a statement Wednesday afternoon on FAMU’s athletics website: 

“My alignment and core values are very important to me, and there is no secret that we created a transformational student-athlete experience second to none that has elevated Florida Agricultural & Mechanical that will place them on a trajectory far beyond my tenure.

“I am incredibly proud of the work and the people that have done that work in such a short time. We have elevated the program and institutional reputation to a level of new credibility.”

Robinson and Gosha met earlier Wednesday prior to Gosha’s resignation announcement. Robinson also notified the Board of Trustees of Gosha’s resignation. Robinson and the university did not issue a statement or comment regarding Gosha’s decision to step down. 

Robinson met with the FAMU coaches, athletic department officials and staff Thursday morning, where he also introduced Smith during the brief meeting. The floor was open for questions but none were asked, according to officials in attendance. 

The FAMU athletic director’s office has had a revolving door over the past 10 years, featuring seven interim or permanent ADs.

The list includes:

Smith (2013 and 2022), Kellen Winslow (2014), Nelson Townsend (2014-15), who died from a heart attack a month after being named interim, Earl D’Wayne Robinson (2015), Milton Overton (2015-17), John Eason (2017-19) and Gosha. 

Shaia Simmons, FAMU football head coach Willie Simmons and FAMU VP/AD Kortne Gosha pose with Rudy Hubbard (second from left) after he was a inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (Photo: Keith McCluney).

Earlier in the day, Simmons hail Gosha’s ‘visionary leadership’

Ironically, Simmons posted a statement Wednesday morning on Facebook in support of Gosha prior to the late afternoon news. 

The post, in part, said:

 “In all my years working in intercollegiate athletics, I’ve never witnessed someone do so much with so little in such a short amount of time. … Your visionary leadership matched with your genuine care for the welfare of our student-athletes makes you a generational talent as an Athletics Director!”

Simmons also thanked Gosha, saying, “I feel more confident than ever in my ability to lead under your leadership! I sincerely thank and applaud you Vice President and Director of Athletics Mr. Kortne Gosha and our young men and women appreciate you more than you can imagine!”

Additionally, Simmons’ post followed a post Tuesday evening by Col. Greg Clark, outgoing president of the FAMU National Alumni Association. Clark has been a staunch supporter of Gosha during his tenure.

The post read: 

“Korte Gosha, my brother and Athletics Director at Florida A&M University, I love you, the Rattler Nation loves you and supports you!!!. You are the best Athletics Director in our school history.” 

News of Gosha’s resignation was met by anger and frustration across social media from FAMU fans.

Simmons again posted a lengthy, passionate message on Facebook Thursday, in part asking fans to continue to support athletics, including financially. He also indicated fans and supporters will “soon get the answers  we’re looking for and we will regain the trust and transparency” that Simmons said was present under Gosha. 

Simmons also asked supporters to “put your heads together and brainstorm innovative and creative ways to do things here that give us a competitive advantage” and “challenge the obstacles we face internally and externally that make it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain talented individuals.”

Simmons, entering his fifth season, also recognized Gosha’s support. He said Gosha “fought to make it worth my while to stay” when Simmons said he was courted by other programs.

Gosha earned praise, faced challenges 

Gosha is credited with directing a battery of capital projects and facility improvements.

Bragg Memorial Stadium is undergoing needed renovations that are expected to be completed by the start of the 2022 season. That list also included the renovation of the Galimore-Powell Football Fieldhouse. 

Gosha also helped direct a number of other brand initiatives and FAMU’s move from the MEAC to the SWAC. 

Simmons’ program last season was featured on the ‘Why Not Us’ series on ESPN+ and presented by Cricket Wireless. The athletics program – and Marching 100 – are also fitted in LeBron James gear through its unique partnership with Nike. 

Gosha’s leadership, however, also faced challenges.

Two key members of his administrative team were terminated. Gosha may have violated the terms of his contract by engaging the university athletics department in a start-up digital streaming television network, according to the Rattler Nation blog.

Last February, FAMU athletics announced a multi-year partnership with Urban Edge Networks (UEN) granting the company the broadcast rights to all available FAMU sports, the Marching 100, and other university-related content.

UEN and HBCU League Pass+ had entered a FAMU branded NASCAR race car using the university’s official trademarks into the nationally televised Pennzoil 400 race in Las Vegas.

UEN also announced a similar deal with Grambling State.

According to HBCU Gameday, SWAC leadership sent a reminder stating that member institutions such as FAMU and Grambling State cannot sign national rights deals in linear or digital form.

SWAC institutions can broadcast on their own individual streaming networks, local television and regional television.

FAMU baseball coach Jamey Shouppe, meanwhile, has witnessed the multiple athletic director changes during his nine years.  Shouppe’s baseball program also appeared to be in line for upgrades, including replacing the Moore-Kittles Field’s grass surface with an artificial turf.

 “I like Kortne, he’s a good guy and I wish him the world of luck,” Shouppe said. “I felt like he did a lot during his time for FAMU.” 

FAMU athletics over recent years has been plagued by fiscal challenges and instability.

According to USA Today’s annual review of schools’ athletics revenue and expenses, FAMU’s total revenue has hovered between just under $7 million to $12.5 million from 2005 to the 2019-2020 fiscal year. 

A familiar name steps in 

Michael Smith
Michael Smith (Photo: FAMU Athletics)

Smith, meanwhile, is a familiar name within FAMU.

Robinson named him the school’s interim director of athletics in 2013.

The former Rattler football player had served as Associate Director of Athletics since 2010, primarily responsible for internal operations.

In over 20 years at FAMU, Smith has also served Florida A&M as the Director of Business and Auxiliary Services, Title IX chairperson, an auditor with FAMU’s Inspector General’s Office, as well as the Business Manager for the Division of Student Affairs.

Smith graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting at Florida A&M University in 1985.

His son, Mallex Smith, is a professional baseball player and former star at Rickards.