FAMU Introduces James Colzie III as 19th Head Football Coach

January 30, 2024
(from left) VP/AD Tiffani-Dawn Sykes, James Colzie III, President Robinson and EVP/COO Donald Palm. (credit: Glenn Beil)
(from left) VP/AD Tiffani-Dawn Sykes, James Colzie III, President Robinson and EVP/COO Donald Palm. (credit: Glenn Beil)

Florida A&M University (FAMU) introduced James Colzie, III as the Rattlers 19th head football coach Monday.

During a news conference at Bragg Memorial Stadium’s Ken Riley Field, President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., welcomed Colzie and thanked those who contributed to the selection, including the FAMU Board of Trustees, Chief Operating Officer Donald Palm, Ph.D., who worked with the search committee, FAMU National Alumni Association, the Rattler “F” Club, Rattler Boosters, 220 Quarterback Club, FAMU Foundation Board of Directors, faculty, students, and student athletes.

“Thank you for what has led to this day,” Robinson said to applause for an appreciative crowd seated in the eastside stands.

Colzie was appointed interim head coach following the departure of head football coach Willie Simmons to Duke University on January 1. His elevation comes following a national search that attracted dozens of applicants.

James Colzie speaking on FAMU football field

James Colzie III addresses gathering as he is introduced at FAMU’s 19th head coach. (Credit: Glenn Beil)


“Today begins a new era in FAMU football. Today, we will add a new name to the legacy of FAMU football coaching greats. There was a large number of interested and experienced candidates who were considered. And at the end of this process, James Colzie, III, emerged as the right person at this time to lead FAMU football,” said Vice President/Athletic Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes.

“Our priority was identifying a coach who, first and foremost, had a commitment to academic excellence and has a comprehensive understanding of APR (Academic Progress Rate),” Sykes continued. “Coach Colzie is currently a doctoral student at Capella University studying leadership and higher education. So it is clear that he understands and appreciates the importance of higher education.”

Colzie joined the FAMU coaching staff as corner backs coach in 2022. At the end of that campaign, Simmons promoted him to assistant head coach. Before he came to FAMU, Colzie was head football coach at Saint Mary’s University in Canada where he had an overall record of 23-19.

Prior to his tenure at Saint Mary’s University, Colzie spent two seasons at the University of British Columbia as their defensive coordinator and defensive back coordinator. In 2015, Colzie helped the Thunderbirds win their first Vanier Cup Championship since 1997. A former Florida State University (FSU) football and baseball player, Colzie had coaching stints at  Simon Fraser University, Southern Arkansas, West Georgia, Valdosta State University and elsewhere.

“It’s great to be the head football of Florida A&M,” said Colzie, who spoke of the upcoming schedule, including the April 13 Spring Game and the season opener in Atlanta, Georgia against Norfolk State. “When they introduce us they have no choice but to call us HBCU national champions.”

In his remarks, Colzie invoked the names of past Rattler coaching greats – Jake Gaither, Ken Riley, Rudy Hubbard, Billy Joe, and Willie Simmons.

“Thanks for setting the standard. I will do my very best to keep that standard,” said Colzie, who was a member of the FSU 1993 National Championship team.  

Winning the Florida Classic, the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship (SWAC) and the Celebration Bowl is a goal and an expectation, Colzie added.

“I want to make sure we do it with class. The FAMU standard is going to be about winning, but also about the right culture,” he said. “We already have a contagious culture. I can’t wait to add to that.”