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Ed Reed’s tenure as head football coach at Bethune-Cookman University lasted 25 days. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was on campus for two weeks before the HBCU chose to move on.
Details continue to emerge and it sounds like there is a lot more to the story than either side is leading on. However, the ensuing fallout thus far reflects especially poorly on the university.
Reed, 44, retired from football in 2013 as one of the best safeties in history. After spending 2016 with the Buffalo Bills, he joined the University of Miami, his alma mater, in 2020 as the program’s Chief of Staff and served as a Senior football advisor in 2022.
In December, not long after Deion Sanders left Jackson State for Colorado, Reed was hired at Bethune-Cookman. It was a big move for the HBCU in Daytona Beach, Florida, but it came without a contract.
There was no formal, legal agreement. Reed verbally agreed to coach the Wildcats and took over the program while his side worked with the university on a deal.
Bethune-Cookman never put ink to a contract.
Despite serving in the role without a contract or pay, Reed did not hold back in his first (and only) month in the role. Like Coach Prime in Mississippi, he was extremely vocal.
Reed saw significant problems with the school that he wanted to fix and echoed Sanders on the issues with HBCUs. He spoke specifically to the ‘broken mentalities’ he encountered at Bethune-Cookman.
As the conversation continued to grow, Reed brought one of his former Miami teammates to campus. Pro Football Hall of Famer Edgerrin James visited Bethune-Cookman earlier this week.
Two days later, Reed announced (through his foundation) that Bethune-Cookman will not ratify his contract and will not make good on the agreement they had in principle. He will not be the head coach of the Wildcats after all.
The timing of the announcement was unusual. Bethune-Cookman had 26 (!!) prospective recruits visiting campus on Saturday with many of them ready to commit to play for coach Reed.
Instead, they visited a program without a head coach. Reed addressed many of the recruits, and his players in a fiery speech that was targeted at the leadership at Bethune-Cookman. Sanders later joined the conversation and offered his perspective.
Ed Reed is out.
With his departure, according to James, went a lot of high-profile investors.
James posted on Instagram after Reed’s announcement and revealed that his friend and former teammate had Shaquille O’Neal and “other Billionaires” ready to back his “vision and build new facilities at Cookman.”
With Reed out, presumably, as is Shaq— though the Basketball Hall of Famer’s mother is a B-CU graduate. As are the “other Billionaires.”
This is not the end of this saga. Details will surely continue to emerge.
As things currently stand, though, Bethune-Cookman has some explaining to do. The question is whether it will do so, or continue to let the narrative unfold around it.