Florida A&M’s football team played Arkansas at a disadvantage Thursday that had nothing to do with the number of scholarships FAMU has compared to the Razorbacks.

The Rattlers were penalized at the start of each quarter due to illegal jerseys in their 49-7 defeat.

FAMU’s away jersey has white numbers with an orange outline on a white background.

The numbers on FAMU’s jerseys were tough to see from the press box here at War Memorial Stadium. The penalty meant FAMU lost a time out at the start of each quarter.

Milton Overton, FAMU’s athletics director, took responsibility for the jersey error.

“It’s a rule we probably should have known, frankly,” Overton said.

“However the rule changed two years ago around the same time we purchased the jerseys. We played all last year -- the official (Thursday) brought it to our attention.

“Obviously, we played non-MEAC schools with different officials.”

FAMU wore the same white jersey during every away game last season, including its season opener against ACC foe Miami.

The team wasn’t penalized for illegal jerseys last season.

According to the NCAA, “By rule each team must wear a jersey that has numbers that clearly contrast with the body of the jersey.”

Extra guidelines on jersey numbers include:

The number itself must clearly contrast, even if it has an outline or border.
The number should be clearly visible from a significant distance.
If there is any question as to whether the number and the jersey contrast, the jersey may not be worn.
Fans and game watchers took to Twitter to voice their outrage and support of the rule.


Dustin Franklin @DMFrank_
That FAMU jersey penalty may be the dumbest rule in football.

🐗 Nathan Rogers ️ @WooPigSumo
FAMU has been charged with more Illegal Jersey calls than Mike "the situation" Sorrentino. #WPS #FAMU #SEC 🐗

Reese Miller @reesewmiller
The FAMU broadcasters nightmare white number on white jersey combo costs them a timeout. Deservedly so.