In a sign of protest the Grambling State football team refused to travel to its game against Jackson State. The players have written university administration a letter of grievance to address their concerns.
A major point of concern is the unsanitary condition of Grambling’s athletic complex.
The athletic complex is a place where we as a team prepare for competition. In our opinion, the complex is in horrible condition, and has many hazards that may contribute to our overall health. First, the complex is filled with mildew and mold. Mildew and mold can be seen on the ceiling, walls and floor, and are contributing to water leaks because of faltering walls and ceilings. Grambling student-athletes are not the only ones complaining about this particular hazard. When Lamar University came to play our team they refused to go in the locker room for half time due to mold and mildew.
Second, the weight room and care of game and practice gear are in bad condition, in areas where the floor is coming up, it causes players to trip while lifting large amounts of weight. Equipment in the weight room is falling apart, as well as workout benches are tearing and ripping apart. We as student- athletes would also like better detergent for our uniforms and practice uniforms. The uniforms are poorly cleaned and contribute to the multiple cases if staph infection. Several players have been infected with staph multiple times.
Players are also upset with their travel arrangements before games.
During summer 2013 we were told we would be taking two major trips this season, Kansas City, Missouri and the other to Indianapolis, Indiana. We were pretty excited but found out later we would be taking a bus. Both trips, we traveled excessive hours. One trip was 14 hours while the other was 17. Players were drained and exhausted after those long rides. Long rides take a toll on athlete’s bodies both mentally and physically. However both the president and athletic director traveled by plane. In our opinion, any trip over 8 hours should be taken by plane. We also found out that we would not travel to a hotel and stay overnight for home games. It is tradition for us to travel for home games but that tradition was broken also.
They also addressed the firing of former coach Doug Williams.
The last issue we would like to address is the firing of our head coach, Doug Williams. Doug Williams was fired September 9, 2013; the football team was not addressed and received no sign of compassion from administration until over a month later, on October 15, 2013 which was the first meeting with our President and Athletic Director. The administration fired the head coach without plans of placing a competent coach in as interim. Coach George Ragsdale has contributed to five of the seven loses of the season. We are not in favor of him as interim and would much rather coach Dirt Winston, Vyron Brown, or C.C Culpepper for the remainder of the season.
Some of the issues surrounding Grambling are quite serious. The mold, mildew, and staph infections are particularly troubling, especially with the outbreak of MSRA in the NFL. When considering the team did not stay in hotels on its long road trips, the travel conditions also seem harsh.
As for the problems with coaches, that’s part of being an athlete. There is turnover in every profession, especially collegiate athletics. While it’s understandable to support your former coach, quitting on the current coach seems childish. However, if it’s true that administrators did not meet with the team until a month after Williams’ firing, that is a big gaffe by Grambling’s officials.
The team’s concerns run the gamut from serious to trivial. It’s obvious that Grambling is a cash-strapped program, and the discontent from its players has boiled over. Sadly, a program always fondly associated with legendary coach Eddie Robinson has this black eye. The team’s letter can be read in its entirety here.