At Grambling University Athletics Dept., Some Black Lives Don’t Matter?
Grambling State University announced they hired Chelsey Lucas as head coach of their women’s volleyball team, the Lady Tigers. Grambling State is a historically black university 65 miles east of Shreveport, Louisiana. At the beginning of April, the new coach made some drastic and controversial changes to the program’s lineup. Several players were cut from the roster based on their performances in three practice sessions. As a result, they lost their positions on the team, but they also lost their scholarships.
Lucas, who played for and graduated from Grambling, says,
“I met with my team, each student-athlete, individually to discuss my plans moving forward with the Grambling State University volleyball program. My decision was not to bring back some of the current student-athletes on the team. While student-athletes are granted athletic scholarships, a scholarship is not guaranteed and not binding, per NCAA rules and regulations.”
GSU Athletics Communications Director Brian Howard said,
“The decision, it’s her decision to make, and she’s got some quality players coming on board. I think 14 or 15 coming on board at some point, so in terms of things, I hate to say out with the old, but in with the new a little bit.”
Maurisa Harris, who has played three years for Grambling State, commented:
“She said that we weren’t able to practice much, which we weren’t, and she said based off on that, she was not able to renew my scholarship, so I didn’t really get any time to show what I could do,”
Sophomore player Destiny Johnson was shocked by Lucas’ move.
“I have to say I am actually sick to my stomach,” Johnson tweeted Monday. “All the time, energy, and dedication I put into the volleyball program here at Grambling State has been thrown right back in my face. My entire team has been robbed of our last years to play the sport we love by a woman who has come in and disrespected and belittled us since day one. I’m so upset that Trayveon Scott (Grambling’s athletic director) has made no effort to look further into this. Grambling State University, especially the athletic department, should be truly ashamed of themselves. We deserve so much better than this.”
This fall, coach Lucas also targeted prospective high schoolers set to play for the Grambling State volleyball team. She sent out an email that read,
“… As the head coach of the Grambling State University Volleyball team, the decisions are made for the entire GSU Volleyball Program. With that being said, I am not honoring the walk-on letter of intent that was given to you by the previous coach…”
At this point, shouldn’t we be talking about the university’s responsibility to its students? Shouldn’t there be a review process before dismissing student-athletes from their chosen path to higher education?
GPA, attendance, and attitude surely would be considered in such a review.
If students can be removed at the whim of a professor or coach, isn’t that a form of discrimination?
Without just cause, the university could be opening itself up to a class-action lawsuit.
Is it outdated that a coach should inspire, encourage, not denigrate, and bully players? Maybe the latter approach works in professional sports, but we’re talking about university athletes who don’t have the incentive of large amounts of cash to motivate them.
Coach Lucas wants to assemble a “dream team” of seasoned athletes. Designed in the end to make her look good. Instead of putting in the hard work necessary to truly motivate her players to win championships, she has opted to use the considerable power of her position to short-cut the process.
By any other measure, it’s a lazy way out. And the students cut deserve better.
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