By Alex D. Williams, Staff Reporter
A series of tweets is all it took to shake up the entire Howard University community, prompting Bison to question once again the fate of the Howard University Football Team. Four members, including three sophomores and a senior, have decided to cut their Howard football career short to enter the NCAA transfer portal.
“The transfer portal has become a major part of college athletics. There are more than 500 Football students in the transfer portal for a number of reasons, including the new NCAA rule which allows football student athletes to regain the eligibility in any given year if they only play four games,” said Director of Athletics Kerry Davis. “Also, a coaching change is another significant factor in a student’s decision to transfer- different systems, philosophies, etc.”
Many students, alumni and fans were left questioning why the players are choosing to leave when the season has already begun. A conversation Howard University Quarterback Caylin Newton provided some insight into his to leave the team.
“It was not my initial intent to go into the transfer portal before the season,” Newton said, “But after playing these four games and trying to make the best decision for myself to reassure that I have another year of eligibility, then the circumstances allowed me to make this decision.”
Newton is the only senior out of the four members leaving the team, making his decision to leave especially hard.
“Blood, sweat and tears to the game,” were the words used by Newton when describing all of the hard work and lifelong friendships he gained while playing here at Howard.
Sophomores Ignacio Reynoso, Khalid Dorsey and John Smith VI, who declined to offer comments, also took to Twitter to announce their departures from the Howard University Football Team.
The team is currently 1-4, and by losing a leader in quarterback Caylin Newton, along with three other members of the team, it is hard to say what lies next.
These departures come following the introduction of a new coach, Ron Prince. Students, parents, and alumni have all noted differences between this year’s coaching staff and those of previous years. A parent anonymously reached out and sent a letter to President Wayne A.I. Frederick and Director of Athletics Kerry Davis. In the letter the parent presents allegations of a hostile and abusive environment that members of the team have had to deal with under Prince’s leadership.
Prince has worked on the coaching staff of several teams, including the Detroit Lions, Kansas State, Michigan and the Jacksonville Jaguars. With his history of coaching, also comes a history of reports of harassment, abrasiveness towards players and allegations of abuse of power.
According to a 2018 article written by Detroit Lions staff writer Jeremy Reisman, Prince, “was not regarded well in the rooms, either the locker rooms or opposing locker rooms.” It was also mentioned throughout this article, that Prince has a very strong personality that rubbed some veteran offensive linemen the wrong way.
“The firing of Ron Prince as the offensive line coach will be the single biggest reason why the Detroit Lions offensive line and run game gets a lot better,” said Jeff Risdon, managing editor of The Lions Wire.
Soon after this article was released, Prince was fired by the Detroit Lions. Prince was also fired by Kansas State just three months after signing a five-year contract with the team.
The new allegations of harassment, verbal abuse and disrespect towards the young men on the Howard football team, pose the question of what measures Howard will take next. According to the parent letter, players are scared to speak out due to fear of retaliation and loss of scholarship. The letter also states that Prince has already removed 26 athletes from the team.
Davis has responded to the allegations saying that the situation is under investigation.
“Howard University does not tolerate verbal abuse or threats of any kind. The safety and well-being of our students is of paramount importance and always our number one priority,” said Davis. “We are taking swift action to understand and investigate the allegations pertaining to the treatment of student-athletes on the football team.”