Florida A&M VP/Director of Athletics Kortne Gosha announced on Monday Coach Willie Simmons will stay as head football coach of the Rattlers as they prepare for their inaugural season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).
Simmons, who played quarterback for the Quincy(Fla.) Shanks high school, said he has more work to do at FAMU.
“I am fully committed to the FAMU Football program. I came to the highest of seven hills to produce the excellence that our alumni and fans expect on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” Simmons said. “We have unfinished business here. Rattler Nation, I am your head football coach. Now let’s refocus on the work at hand and prepare to strike fear in the SWAC and beyond.”
The announcement comes as Simmons was being linked to a move to Division 1 program.
“I am excited that Coach Simmons will be our head football coach as we head into the SWAC. We are laser focused on providing him with the resources he needs to build a successful program at the #1 HBCU in the country,” Gosha said. “As the athletic director, we are committed to taking the program to places we’ve never been. Under Coach Simmons’ leadership, we will continue to sustain our championship-level performance.”
Since he was hired in December 2017, Simmons has led a resurgence of the storied program, going 15-7 in two seasons, including 9-2 in 2019. In 2018, the Rattlers went 6-5, their first winning season is seven years.
Simmons was named the Tallahassee Democrat’s 2019 Person of the Year for his leadership on the field and his activism on gun violence and other social issues.
“Coach Simmons is a leader on the gridiron and in the community. He has shown that he can manage a highly competent staff, coach talented athletes and get positive results that develop young men of character and inspire them to tackle the issues that threaten their lives,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. “I am excited he will remain with the Rattler family. Together we can accomplish great things.”