Ed Reed’s tenure at Bethune-Cookman lasted all of 25 days, ending in controversy this past weekend when the school declined to ratify his contract. A Hall-of-Fame safety who played much of his career in Baltimore (where he won a Super Bowl in 2012), Reed never coached a game for the Wildcats, parting ways with the university after posting a series of profanity-laced videos on social media, criticizing Bethune-Cookman’s dilapidated campus and poorly-maintained athletic facilities. Reed was particularly frustrated by the condition of his office, which, upon his arrival, was full of trash.
Reed had hoped his words would bring change, shaming the university into pumping more resources into its football program, but instead, it had the opposite effect, prompting their inevitable falling out. In delivering the news to his players, the 44-year-old gave a tearful speech, ripping Bethune-Cookman’s “corrupt” administrators for setting their students up to fail. In a press release announcing the school’s decision to halt its negotiations with Reed, Bethune-Cookman attributed its trash epidemic to Hurricane Ian, which ravaged Florida’s Atlantic coast this past fall.
Students gathered in support of the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Monday morning, staging a protest outside of White Hall Chapel, demanding accountability from the school’s board of trustees while petitioning for Reed’s reinstatement.
Though his whistle-blowing tactics obviously weren’t well-received, Reed’s activism exposes the ugly truth of HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), which remain criminally underfunded, neglected relative to other schools with wealthier endowments and powerful alumni bases. Reed was looking to follow in the footsteps of Deion Sanders, who put a national spotlight on HBCUs during his three-year stint at Jackson State, landing five-star recruit Travis Hunter (who has since followed Sanders to Colorado) while also hosting ESPN’s College GameDay for the first time. Unfortunately, Reed’s repeated clashes with university administrators prevented that from ever happening.