Something ain’t right on The Yard in Louisiana.
Months after Hue Jackson double-downed on having one of the most disgraced coaches in all of sports on his staff in Art Briles — before Briles resigned and Jackson has even coached a game — Grambling State University is back in the news due to the actions around a coach that was hired and gone before ever blowing a whistle at practice.
Earlier this week, the school announced that head volleyball coach Chelsey Lucas had been terminated — five months after hiring the 2007 alumna. The result was due to an internal investigation.
As soon as Lucas got the job she made national news when she cut the whole team.
All of ‘em.
In April, Lucas got rid of the entire roster when she informed all 19 players that their scholarships weren’t being renewed. Players, parents, the school, and its athletic department were all blindsided as they didn’t realize that her definition of “cleaning house” meant to burn it down. In Lucas’ defense, the team finished 11-17 in 2021, as you won’t find a winning season as far back as the school’s website lets you search.
“The success of student-athletes and their ability to matriculate at Grambling State University is the top priority,” wrote Dr. Trayvean Scott, vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics in a statement. “As we move forward in this transition and commence a national search for the next coach, all volleyball student-athletes who received scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year will keep their scholarships and remain on the team. Walk-ons will also continue to hold their roster spot.”
“It is the responsibility of this institution to make sure that student-athletes are afforded opportunities in a manner compliant with all regulatory organizations,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. “That applies to athletics as much as it does to academics.”
Lucas is claiming that there’s more to the story.
“Since I started at Grambling, I have been ordered not to speak to the media,” she recently said in a statement. “My voice has unfortunately been silenced despite the rumors and accusations about me. As a result, I have not been able to provide my side of the story about the many events that have occurred during my tenure as head volleyball coach at Grambling. I was told today, without notice or any opportunity for discussion, that I was being terminated. When I asked why I was being terminated, the administration was not able to provide me any details about why they decided to fire me.”
A wrong has been done here, and the people that do the hiring at Grambling are the guilty party.
This is the same athletic department that brought shame to a legendary college football program earlier this year when it allowed Jackson — a man with an 11-44 record as an NFL head coach — to hire Briles, an alleged serial rape enabler, to his staff. The hire angered so many that GSU legend Doug Williams said that he would no longer support the program where he once played and coached.
To make matters worse, days later Jackson released a statement through his foundation about why he was once again sticking by Briles, despite the letter being full of lies, half-truths, non-contextual statements, and examples of why winning football games trumped everything in Jackson’s eyes.
Briles eventually resigned. But Jackson still looks like a fool for hiring and supporting him. And now the focus is on an athletic department at a school that’s had two coaching hiring scandals in the last six months.
In a moment in which HBCU athletics are experiencing attention like never before in a social media era, programs and schools that are far too often overlooked, devalued, and discriminated against are finally getting their just due. But for some reason, a bunch of adults down in Louisiana are ruining this moment for students, alums, and student-athletes all because they don’t know how to execute a thorough process when it comes to hiring a coach, or at least find some noteworthy information on Google.
Making mistakes is a part of life. But making the same mistakes proves a lack of accountability and maturity. And from where I’m sitting the powers that be at Grambling have some growing up to do.