Although Grambling State’s volleyball practices are slated to begin Monday and a new coach is expected to be announced next week, some student-athletes remain in limbo about what their athletic scholarships entail.
The Tigers’ volleyball program has been embroiled in controversy since the spring when now-fired coach Chelsey Lucas suspended the scholarships of up to 19 members of the team, including senior setter Sheila Borders.
Borders’ mother, Tashia Bryce, said her daughter has had a hearing before a university committee and has been approved to be back on an athletic scholarship.
“What we’re waiting on right now is the criteria of the scholarship – on whether she is approved and will have to play, or approved and not play. She’s an athlete. She wants to play,” Bryce told Gannett Louisiana. “She got the scholarship back, which is the most important part, but she’s waiting to see if she’ll be able to play.”
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Some athletes, however, have not yet had a hearing — virtual or in person — depending on whether they were in Grambling or at home for the summer.
“Some people were approved. Some were denied, and some haven’t received the final decision on theirs yet,” Bryce said. “You would think it would have been one judgment across the board, but it’s not. Each individual person had to do their own appeal.”
Despite the controversy which will see the program have its third coach in a little over six months, the details appear far from settled. Brian Howard, GSU’s senior associate athletic director for athletic communications, said Thursday there will be a volleyball season and that a coach is expected to be named in the next week. The team is due to report Sunday.
“They’ve had open practices, nothing organized, just players playing together,” Howard said. “Practice starts Monday.”
While Bryce said her daughter has been given a 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 could not transfer without losing credits.
“They might say she doesn’t have to play and then turn around and take away her scholarship saying she never showed up for practice,” Bryce said. “It’s an athletic scholarship. We just want it to come to closure — give our kids what they had before, which is their education and their ability to play sports.”
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Bryce said dealing with Lucas was an ordeal that had financial consequences for her family along with others. Apparently, Lucas required the athletes living off-campus in Grambling and Ruston to give up their apartments and move on campus before she removed them from the team. They were also denied use of Grambling athletic facilities to continue working out. The six or so seniors had to secure gym memberships to remain in playing shape and were forced to scramble to find places to live in the tight housing market.
“There was a lot of financial damage that was done — unnecessary financial damage,” Bryce said.
Despite the issues, the unhappiness and the uncertain immediate future, Bryce said her parent group is ready to move on.
“We are a team of believers and we’re a team of forgiveness. We’ve been through a lot, but at the same time, let’s fix it. Let’s give the girls back what they deserve,” Bryce said. “Give them back what they should have had from the beginning, move forward and make things better. These are adults, but they’re also young kids. They still need nurturing. We’re looking for the president, the athletic director and the compliance department to step in and make the necessary changes to ensure our girls are back on the roster – and give them the opportunity to play again.”
JT Keith contributed to this article.
Jimmy Watson covers Shreveport-Bossier area sports. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6