Grambling State University, a historically black university located in Grambling, Louisiana, hired Chelsey Lucas in February as the head coach of its women’s volleyball team. Clearly unhappy with her players’ performance after three practices, she took the unprecedented step of cutting the entire team last week.
GSU Athletics Communications Director Brian Howard told KSLA-TV that athletic department leaders were aware Lucas planned on “making some changes to the roster,” but were surprised to learn the whole team had been dismissed.
KSLA reported that players told the station that Lucas had called team members in for individual meetings to tell them their scholarships would not be renewed.
“The decision, it’s her decision to make and she’s got some quality players coming on board,” Howard said. “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.
“Obviously, we don’t want them to be cut or lose their scholarships or whatever that might be or whatever that might look like. At the end of the day, Coach Lucas has a goal, has a vision. We have a goal as an institution and a vision as well to win, and that’s first and foremost,” he added.
Chelsey Lucas, who serves as Grambling State University’s new head volleyball coach recently cut the entire team, and according to the players, they were told their scholarships would not be renewed.
— NBC12 WWBT Richmond (@NBC12) April 7, 2022
GSU Athletic Director Dr. Trayveon Scott said in a statement: “Just as the transfer portal empowers student-athletes, our coaches are also empowered to make the decisions they deem necessary to advance their programs.”
Grambling State University’s Volleyball Coach Cuts Entire Team https://t.co/GOOXt9t6Gs
— Grambling State Volleyball Fans (@GramblingVBall) April 5, 2022
Junior Maurisa Harris, in her third year on the team, told KSLA that Lucas’ action “has left many of her teammates scrambling to find another program to transfer to late in the off-season,” the station reported.
Grambling State University’s new head volleyball coach Chelsey Lucas has decided to cut the entire team https://t.co/0nNCPVa4jo
— Chris Rodgers 🦚 (@rodgeau) April 7, 2022
“She said that we weren’t able to practice much, which we weren’t and she said, based off of that, she was not able to renew my scholarship so I didn’t really get any time to show what I could do,” Harris said. “When I was in there and she told me, my heart completely broke. Of course and I didn’t cry in there, but I did when I left and it just hurts really bad, the fact that it was snatched away so fast.”
Teammate Destiny Johnson, a sophomore, had also been blindsided by Lucas’ decision. Following her meeting, she posted a statement on Twitter. She was devastated by the news.
— Destinyyy🤩 (@TheD_Renee) April 4, 2022
The move has caused some controversy. In a commentary published by TheGrio, an MSNBC website geared toward black readers, writer Deron Snyder noted that the Grambling State women’s volleyball team had gone 8-8 in 2021, and criticized Lucas, who is black, on explicitly racial grounds.
Lucas, he wrote, is “proof that all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk. She’s as cold and calculating as the most callous Caucasian. Imagine if a white coach came in and axed the entire roster. She’d be dragged through the Twitterverse.”
“Lucas deserves that same energy we’d have for Becky,” he wrote, using a derogatory term for white women.
He also criticized Howard’s comments and argued that historically black colleges and universities should have different priorities for their sports programs.
“Contrary to Howard’s contention, winning games shouldn’t be first and foremost when Grambling describes its goal and vision as an institution,” Snyder wrote.
“HBCUs are in the business to mold and develop young Black adults. The mission isn’t to mimic the money-making sports factories that play on ESPN and network TV. Grambling isn’t supposed to resemble SEC powerhouses that don’t give a damn about players beyond the football field or basketball court,” he wrote.
Lucas graduated from GSU in 2007.
According to Sports Illustrated, prior to accepting the position at GSU, Lucas spent three years at the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff where her overall record was 37-44 and a “37–17 mark in conference play.”
Before UAPB, she coached for three years at Alcorn State University. Both UAPB and Alcorn State are Southwestern Athletic Conference programs.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.