Grambling State’s volleyball practices begin Monday, and while a new coach is expected to be announced next week, some players are in limbo about their athletic scholarships.
The volleyball program has been embroiled in controversy since the spring when now-fired coach Chelsea Lucas suspended the scholarships of 19 members of the team.
Tashia Bryce, mother of senior setter Sheila Borders, said her daughter had a hearing before a university committee and was approved to return on an athletic scholarship.
“What we’re waiting for right now is the criteria for the scholarship – whether she’s accepted and has to play or accepted and not played. She is an athlete. She wants to play,” Bryce told Gunnett Louisiana on Thursday. “She got the scholarship back, which is the most important part, but waiting to see if she can play.”
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However, depending on whether some athletes are at Grambling or at home for the summer — virtual or in person — there’s still no hearing.
“Some have been approved. Some have been rejected and some haven’t been finalized,” Bryce said. “You’d think it would be the same ruling across the board, but it’s not. Each person must make their own appeal.
Despite the controversy the program will see its third coach in six months, details are far from over. Brian Howard, GSU’s senior associate athletic director for athletic communications, said Thursday that a season will be over and a coach is expected to be named next week. The team will report on Sunday.
“They have open practices, nothing organized, players playing together,” Howard said.
Although Bryce said her daughter received verbal approval, she and other parents don’t fully trust the Grambling administration and want to see something “in black and white.” They don’t know who selected the university committee that oversaw the appeals. Borders is a dual biology-kinesiology major who hopes to eventually become a doctor, but she can’t transfer without losing credits.
“They could say she didn’t have to play and take away her scholarship saying she never showed up to practice,” Bryce said. “It’s an athletic scholarship. We want it to be closed – give our kids what they had before, which is their education and their ability to play sports.
Bryce said dealing with Lucas has been an ordeal that has had financial consequences for his family, among others. She said Lucas asked athletes living off-campus in Grambling and Ruston to leave their apartments and move onto campus before being kicked off the team. They also refuse to use the athletic facilities to continue exercising. Seniors have had to get gym memberships to stay in game shape and scramble to find places to live in a tight housing market.
“There’s been a lot of financial loss — unnecessary financial loss,” Bryce said.
Despite the problems, dissatisfaction and uncertain immediate future, Bryce said his parent team is ready to move on.
“We’re a team of believers and we’re a team of forgivers. We’ve been through a lot, but at the same time, let’s get it right. Let’s give back to the girls what they deserve,” said Bryce. “Give them back what they deserve from the beginning, move on and make things better. These are adults, But they’re young kids too. They still need nurturing. We’re looking at the president, the athletic director and the compliance department to step in and make the necessary changes to get our girls back on the roster – and give them a chance to play again.
JT Keith contributed to this story.
Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6