The Grambling State University volleyball program captured the interest of the HBCU community this spring and summer for all the wrong reasons.
The athletic department has been under fire for the way it has handled the volleyball program in recent months. Following reports of newly hired head volleyball coach Chelsey Lucas cutting the entire team in April, it was announced earlier this month that Lucas had been fired after an internal investigation.
The athletic department initially supported Lucas and her alleged decision for the team but was singing a different tune once she was fired. Lucas later claimed publicly that she was instructed by the Director of Athletics Trayvean Scott to get rid of the entire team, suggesting doing so was not her call.
There are many questions still looming about what’s next for everyone involved in this situation.
Lucas said after the firing that she was wrongfully terminated and would be looking to get an attorney. It was not immediately clear if she has or will file a lawsuit against the school.
Lucas said in an interview shortly after her dismissal that she was directed to get rid of the team.
“I was literally directed at one point … to get rid of them all,” Lucas, who has previously worked as the head volleyball coach at Alcorn State University and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, told 247 Sports in an interview published earlier this month. “But I turned around in that same meeting and told him ‘No, that’s not what we are going to do’ and I was not only in that meeting I had two other coaches sitting with me in that meeting.”
“I met with 14 girls on the day that we had our end-of-the-year meetings. On April the 4, I met with them. There were girls that I gave them reasons of why you will no longer be a part of the Grambling volleyball program, and there were student-athletes that I asked — that I asked — I want you to be a part of this program. This is your decision. I want you to come in and help me build a winning program here,” Lucas explained. “I was looking for the university to make a statement and say that this did not happen,” she said. “I was looking for (Scott), I was looking for my student information director (Taylor Jeanlewis), I was looking for anyone besides me to say this did not happen.”
NewsOne has made repeated efforts to reach out to Lucas to ask her about her future but did not immediately receive a response.
Since the firing of Lucas, an online petition to provide the athletes who were cut in April with their scholarships has started to gain significant traction amid this debacle. The petition has nearly 4,000 signatures as of the publication of this article.
Grambling State said that all volleyball student-athletes who had a scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year will keep their place on their roster following the termination of Lucas. Walk-ons will also be able to keep their spot.
“Lucas has been terminated due to findings from the investigation!!! The Ladies of Grambling Volleyball would like Grambling State University athletic department to reinstate athletic scholarships in hopes to allow the remaining players to complete their athletic careers and to allow the student-athletes to complete their education debt-free,” the petition said in part. “These ladies are ready to join forces with new recruits and future coach! Majority of the players that have remained are seniors and looking to complete their legacy. Praying Grambling State will continue to do the right thing and keep the ladies in their best interest!”
The Twitter account for fans of Grambling State volleyball tweeted on Tuesday that it was expecting “positive news this week” about the players who had been cut.
Grambling State volleyball
The Grambling State volleyball program is now in an interesting predicament. With less than two months before the team’s schedule begins, they are left with no head coach.
NewsOne reached out to Grambling State’s athletic department to inquire about the search for a new volleyball coach but did not immediately hear back.
Grambling State officials released multiple statements at the time of Lucas’ firing.
“The success of student-athletes and their ability to matriculate at Grambling State University is the top priority,” said Dr. Trayvean Scott, president of intercollegiate athletics for GSU. “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.”
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