Even though volleyball practices at Grambling State are scheduled to begin Monday and a new coach is expected to be announced next week, some players are still confused about what their athletic scholarships entail.
The volleyball program has been embroiled in controversy since the spring, when sacked coach Chelsea Lucas suspended scholarships for as many as 19 players.
Tahia Bryce, the mother of senior setter Sheila Borders, said her daughter had a hearing with the College Board and was approved to regain her athletic scholarship.
“What we’re waiting for now is the criteria for the scholarship — whether she’s approved and has to play, or is approved and doesn’t play. She’s an athlete. She wants to play,” Bryce told Gannett Louisiana on Thursday. “She got her scholarship back, which is the most important part, but she’s waiting to see if she’ll be able to compete.”
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However, some athletes have yet to hold hearings — either virtually or in person — depending on whether they’re in the Gramblings or at home for the summer.
“Some have been approved. Some have been rejected, and some have not received their final decision,” Bryce said. “You would think it would be a sweeping judgment, but it’s not. Everyone has to make their case.”
While the plan will see a third coach in contention in just over six months, the details appear to be far from settled. Brian Howard, GSU’s senior associate athletic director for sports communications, said Thursday that there will be a season and a coaching appointment is expected next week. The team will report on Sunday.
“They have open practices, no organization, just players playing together,” Howard said.
While Bryce said her daughter received verbal approval, she and other parents don’t fully trust the Gramblings government and want to see something “black and white.” They do not know who has chosen the college committee that oversees the appeal. Borders, a biokinetics double major, hopes to eventually become a doctor, but she can’t transfer without losing her credits.
“They might say she doesn’t have to play and then turn around and take her scholarship and say she never trains,” Bryce said. “This is an athletic scholarship. We just want it to end—give our kids what they had before, which is their education and ability to play sports.”
Bryce said dealing with Lucas was an ordeal, with financial implications for her family and others. Lucas asked athletes who lived off-campus in Gramblings and Ruston to give up their apartments and move to campus before removing them from the team, she said. They were also denied access to exercise facilities to continue exercising. Seniors must get gym memberships to stay in shape and are forced to scramble to find shelter in a tight housing market.
“There’s a lot of economic damage — unnecessary economic damage,” Bryce said.
Despite these issues, unhappiness and uncertain near-term future, Bryce said her parenting group is ready to move on.
“We’re a bunch of believers, we’re a bunch of people who forgive. We’ve been through a lot, but at the same time, let’s fix it. Let’s give girls back what they deserve,” Bryce said. “Give them back what they should have had from the beginning and move on and make things better. These are adults, but they are also young kids. They still need to be nurtured. We’re looking for a president, sports The Director and Compliance stepped in and made the necessary changes to ensure our girls were back on the roster — and give them a chance to compete again.”
JT Keith contributed to this story.
Jimmy Watson is in charge of sports in the Shreveport-Bossier area. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @JimmyWatson6