Squad cuts at Grambling State are eye-opener for black student-athletes

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Athletic scholarships play a vital role in the path of many students towards obtaining a college education, especially black students. At many universities across the country, scholarship athletes make up a huge percentage of the black student population. According to Countryside, one in 11 black students is on scholarships, compared to only one in 125 white students. The numbers are even worse for a litany of other schools, including the University of Southern California, the University of Miami in Florida. These schools operate within a ratio of 1 to 5.

With the rising cost of higher educationthe racial wealth gap which reveals black economic discrimination and the fact that black students on average graduate with $25,000 more in student loans than their white counterparts – the importance of an athletic scholarship for a young black athlete who could be worth over $30,000 a year in tuition cannot be overstated.

Grambling State Volleyball’s new coach Chelsey Lucas shocked everyone HBCUs community last week when they decided to delete the entire volleyball list, leaving a number of student-athletes without scholarships.

Lucas was hired in February and it didn’t take long for him to make some major changes, including creating an all-new roster. The decision sparked considerable controversy in HBCUs circles and is just another example of the confusion between business interests and the best interests of young people in college athletics.

Several players who learned that their scholarships would not be renewed for the upcoming season took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the situation.

Destiny Johnson, a sophomore on the team in 2021, said she and her former teammates “deserved so much better”.

“All the time the energy (and) dedication I put into the volleyball program here at Grambling State was thrown back in my face. My whole team was robbed of our final years to practice volleyball. sport we love by a woman who came in and disrespected us and put us down from day one,” Johnson said. “I’m so upset that the DA has made no effort to pursue this matter further. Grambling State University, especially the athletic department, should really be ashamed of themselves. We deserve so much better. »

“Athletic scholarships are extremely important for black athletes,” said Morgan Harris, a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and current master’s student at UC Davis. “It gives them a chance to capitalize on their talents to access higher education for a fraction of the cost. [Without scholarships] Many black athletes are said to be heavily in debt after sacrificing their time and energy to earn money for a university.

Other Grambling student athletes shared their thoughts on these events and even called the Grambling State administration to find out how they handled the situation.

“You can say what you want about this situation because you won’t fully understand what we’ve been through unless you stand in our shoes,” said Semira Fields, a junior athlete in the Grambling Volleyball program in 2021 on its now deleted. Twitter feed. “Does the Grambling administration not hear us, or do they just don’t care? How much do you think as single students we can handle? »

In a statement provided to Sports HBCUsGrambling State athletic director Trayvean Scott supported Lucas’ decision to scrap the entire roster.

“Just as the Transfer Portal empowers student-athletes, our coaches are also empowered to make the decisions they deem necessary to move their programs forward,” Scott said.

In the days following the official announcement of the roster changes, many people tried to speculate as to why Lucas would remove all of these women. Some thought there might be disciplinary issues, but the team’s players responded quickly to those rumours.

“Please tell me what discipline issues we had?” Sheila Borders, a senior on the team last year, said via Twitter. “Half our team made the presidents list which is 3.7 [GPA] and above. None of us ever had any problems on and off campus.

“I have made the list of presidents, a representative from SAAC, part of the pre-doctoral biology society at Grambling and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. several times but I am ‘unfit’.

For many, this situation has offered a glimpse into the cutthroat world of college sports and highlights the many complexities that exist in NCAA athletics today.

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