Grambling State University Defends Volleyball Coach’s Decision To Cut Entire Team

Grambling State University’s (GSU) new head volleyball coach Chelsey Lucas was hired in February to advance the team.

Last week, Lucas notified the institution’s administration that she would be making necessary changes to the volleyball team’s roster—she cut all 19 players.

Lucas has received an unsatisfactory response based on her decision from team members, but GSU faculty, Brian Howard, GSU’s athletics communications director, stands behind the coach’s final decision.

“The decision, it’s her decision to make, and she’s got some quality players coming on board. 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,” Howard said. “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.

Since the team’s changes, rumors circulated that Lucas had preconceived intentions to clean sweep the original team to bring in an entirely new team with prospective recruits from her former team in Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

“She (Lucas) said, ‘I bet you didn’t think you would see me again,'” an anonymous player accused Lucas of saying during an initial team meeting where allegedly comparisons were made between the Grambling roster and the UAPB roster.

Claiming Lucas ran intense drill practices that didn’t allow team members to showcase their athleticism, the anonymous student is confused about how the new GSU coach assessed any of her teammates.

“I don’t understand how she evaluated us when we were running all the time,” the player said in reference to the conditioning work Lucas put the team through upon her arrival. “We would start something (a drill) but if we messed up, we would run or do push-ups. It was more punishment than actual practice. We didn’t practice or show her any of our skills.”

Dismissing the misconception that Lucas is out for revenge, Trayvean Scott, the GSU Athletic Director, rectified the notion that the entire original team was being cut.

“I want to provide some fact. I’ve been told, and again I’ve only spoken to two student-athletes, one prospective and one current, that Coach Lucas is bringing an entire team is inaccurate,” Scott said. “My belief is it is four or five young ladies. I think the tone and tenor is that she cut the entire team, in fact, she intended to keep four or five,” Scott said.

Students like Naturi Parker were one of 19 players once on the GSU volleyball team with a scholarship, now face the decision of whether to continue their education at Grambling or transfer to a different school.

“The fact that I wasn’t even able to show what I can do is heartbreaking because, just like you said, I just went through the recruiting process, didn’t get recruited, but still found a way to make it on the team,” she said.

Families of prospective players said the coaching staff sent out emails this week on the team’s new direction.

“Hope you had a great weekend. As the head coach of the Grambling State University Volleyball team, the decisions are made for the entire GSU Volleyball Program. With that being said, I am not honoring the walk-on letter of intent that was given to you by the previous coach. I wish you the best on your next steps of your volleyball career,” the email read.

An anonymous parent shared with KSLA that the news comes to a surprise because his daughter is a superb student-athlete with a 3.7 GPA. Overall, he says his main concern is his daughter’s mental health.

“I understand that it’s a game, it’s a game, it’s a sport, a professional coaching job, but at the same time, there is a way to go about doing things. For her to stay there and keep that thought in the back of her mind that, ‘I’m supposed to be out there.’ I don’t think it’s healthy mentally for her to stay,” he said.

Lucas released a statement on Thursday to address students’ and families’ feelings about her future plans for the team.

“I met with my team, each student-athlete, individually to discuss my plans moving forward with the Grambling State University volleyball program. My decision was to not to bring back some of the current student-athletes on the team. While student-athletes are granted athletic scholarships, a scholarship is not guaranteed and not binding, per NCAA rules and regulations,” she wrote.

Lucas is a former Grambling volleyball player and became the new GSU coach after a three-year contract at UAPB.