Howard University's football players, after a meeting with Coach Floyd Keith on Thursday, have softened their stand in demanding the school's administration improve conditions in the athletic department.
More than 100 disgruntled athletes, including about 60 football players, boycotted the school's athletic banquet last Tuesday and issued what they called 18 nonnegotiable demans that were to be met by the administration by the end of this semester. Among them was a call for the immediate dismissal of Athletic Director Leo Miles. One of the athletes called the new union a bond that would be permanent at Howard.
After meeting with Keith, the football players told the other Howard athletes they wanted to modify the list of demands and compromise on the demands with university officials.
The football players and other athletes met with school Vice President Carl Anderson in a closed-door meeting Friday night. The football players told Anderson that they were willing to forget the first two demands: separating the athletic department from the department of student affairs, which Anderson heads, and Miles' removal. Those were by far the most serious of the 18.
Most of the athletes on the other teams still want Howard to meet those two demands, according to soccer player Jacques Ladouceur.
Some of the football indicated they thought the soccer team had a personal grudge with Miles because of his recent disagreements with Soccer Coach Lincoln Phillips. Keith was unavailable for comment yesterday.
"The football team said they'll pull out of the group if we didn't drop the first two demands," Ladouceur said. "It was then that the disagreement started.
"There seems to be a slight division among us now, but we hope to resolve that," he said. "One team shouldn't say, 'We have to have this or we'll pull out.' It seemed like the football team was being a bit selfish. But they shouldn't be because this whole process was conceived to help everybody."
Controversy involving the football team for the past two years is largely responsible for the boycott and issuing of demands.
Many of the other demands address deficiencies in the athletic department that have already been criticized in a university task force report.
Anderson said at the meeting that finanaical limitations may prevent the administration from meeting some of the demands. But Anderson, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said the school would try to improve the tutorial program, increase the availably of equipment managers, doctors and paramedics and increase meal money on road trips.
"As far as I'm concerned, nothing happened at that meeting," Ladouceur said. "Anderson seemed very unaware of a lot of the problems we were discussing. At first we decided we weren't even going to meet, then he hurriedly got something together. But he was using those same kindergarten tactics, talking about how the administration would try. We've been hearing the word 'try' all along. It's not enough.
"I told Anderson we wanted to see the budget and he said no. We plan to meet tomorrow to iron out some things."