The University of North Alabama and Alabama A&M University issued a statement of unity Wednesday after Alabama A&M's head football coach earlier this week issued fiery comments that inferred racism regarding the treatment of his team during Saturday's game.
During his weekly Monday news conference, Coach Connell Maynor inferred racism played a part in the treatment he said his school received at Saturday's game in Florence against North Alabama.
"It ain't 1959, we don't have to put up with that type stuff," Maynor said during the news conference, which streamed on Facebook Live. "We're not going to play them again, not as long as I am head coach."
Video of the news conference has since been taken down.
Wednesday's joint statement appears to contradict the assertion that the schools will stop playing each other.
"We remain dedicated to furthering our relationship and enjoying a bright future, both on and off the field," the final sentence reads.
The statement describes both universities as "vital educational institutions that serve the North Alabama region and beyond."
It continues, "Both institutions are committed to working collaboratively to advance our respective missions. We are separated by 76 miles; however, we remain united in ensuring the viability of our institutions and the success of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and programs, both academically and athletically. As part of that collaborative commitment, both universities have been in communication since Monday about the recent UNA-AAMU football game at Braly Stadium to decide what, if any, next steps are necessary. Both institutions are committed to providing a safe, accommodating, friendly, and inclusive environment."
Michelle Eubanks, interim associate director for University Communications and Marketing, said she believes officials from both athletic departments will work together toward that effort.
"As far as the next step goes, we believe it is the opportunity for our athletic director and their athletic director, and our sports information director and their sports information director, to get together to work through the next steps that we alluded to in the statement," Eubanks said. "We both believe there is a pathway forward."
She said the universities have a "long, storied history" of a positive relationship with each other.
"At the end of the day, this relationship we've developed over our history is important to all of us, and we want to make sure that that's maintained as we go forward," Eubanks said. "That's the most meaningful thing that we all need to keep in mind."
On Monday, Maynor said Alabama A&M received no complimentary tickets or tickets to sell to the public for the game; players were not allowed on the field until two hours before the game; his assistant coaches were held back so that fans could use the elevator to have access to the press box right before kickoff; and A&M coaches were told they had to have their credentials hanging around their neck while UNA coaches had theirs hanging from their waist.
The coach also alleged an incident occurred in which a police officer put "his hand on his gun" and said "Did you hear what he said?" during an argument between a coach and security.
Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler said when he found out about the allegations Monday, he contacted the supervisors who worked the game. He said none were aware of any confrontation. He said there were three Florence police officers and "maybe a state trooper" working the south end zone of Braly Stadium.
In a statement Monday, UNA officials said Monday's news conference was the first time they were made aware of any issues. The university added UNA reached out to Alabama A&M Athletic Director Bryan Hicks, who said he was not aware of the situation.
According to sources with knowledge of the game contract between the two schools, UNA was not required to provide any tickets to Alabama A&M. It was the same as last season in which Alabama A&M was not required to and did not provide any tickets for UNA officials and coaches, or any tickets for the school to sell to the public.
Another source said when concerns were raised about the lack of tickets provided to Alabama A&M for Saturday’s game, UNA allotted 176 tickets for Bulldogs officials to use at their discretion with the understanding that A&M would pay for them.
Jeff Hodges, UNA's sports information director, said it is standard policy for teams not to be allowed on the field until two hours before kickoff.