Grambing State football stadium
Photo: Grambling State University Athletics

In a letter addressed to University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson on Tuesday, the Grambling State football team expressed a “no vote of confidence” in university president Rick Gallot.

HBCU Sports obtained a copy of the letter to Henderson on Wednesday, which also named the ULS Board of Supervisors, Board of Regents of Louisiana, state Senator Katrina Jackson and state Rep. Patrick Jefferson.

The letter emerges weeks after the school fired former coach Broderick Fobbs on Nov. 15 and days before a Friday press conference when the school is expected to name former NFL coach and Tennessee State assistant Hue Jackson as the new head football coach.

“WE, the 2021 G-Men of Grambling State University Football, have written this letter to bring attention to and file a formal complaint of mistreatment, lack of institutional control, possible misappropriation of funds, and the lack of financial support for GSU Athletics, with an emphasis on Football,” a portion of the letter stated.

“This has undermined the integrity and reputation of our programs, harmed the growth and development of current student-athletes, deterred recruitment of future student-athletes, and led to the termination of our former Head Football Coach Broderick Fobbs.

“University President Richard Gallot is the main contributor to the decline of Grambling State University Football that used to be the “Black Notre Dame” and ICON of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the state of Louisiana and the nation.”

The team continued the letter by listing specific issues which it argues led to “the decline” of the football program’s performance over recent years. The issues highlighted include “misappropriation and diversion of funds for the football program,” a “failure to provide a safe environment,” and “failure to provide, promote and support proper athletic staff.”

Also read: Former Grambling football assistant reacts to firing of Broderick Fobbs: ‘Good luck trying to fill those shoes’

“Collectively, the G-Men are respectfully requesting an investigation into the Athletic Program, specifically our program, to include a review of the overall budget, staffing, and facilities. It is our honor to represent Grambling as G-Men and we deserve better from our University,” the letter concluded.

On Wednesday, junior defensive back Rey Estes spoke with HBCU Sports as the team’s representative and confirmed the authenticity of the letter. He said lodging and meals steadily worsened during road trips as the season progressed but indicated that the team’s trip to Tallahassee, Florida — during breakfast before its Oct. 30 game against Florida A&M — served as a “turning point” for the team to take action.

“You expect us to go out here and perform at a high level, at a certain particular speed, but we’re waking up six o’clock in the morning to eat cereal,” Estes said. “We feel like we’re not put in the best position as a team, as football players, as young men to win football games when competing against the other guys.” He said such meals were typical for the team during breakfast on road trips, with selections limited to cereal, milk, bagels, and danishes.

Estes further discussed the deteriorating conditions of the football team’s locker room and concerns about player safety. He said the team played with defective equipment, including shoulder pads and helmets that couldn’t be pumped with air for proper fitting.

“I had a helmet that I played with all season; practiced with all season. You couldn’t pump air in it. You need to put air in your helmet to compress it to make it fit your head,” said Estes. “I put a couple of scarves on to make it fit. And as my hair was growing, it was helping me fit my helmet as well. I just had to make it work.

“Right now, we just don’t have the best equipment. At Grambling, we have to make it do what it do with [the equipment] that’s in the room. We know that’s not our equipment manager’s fault, that’s not our head coach’s fault, not the position coaches’ fault. It’s the administration’s fault because they fund the program.”

In a phone conversation with HBCU Sports late Thursday, Gallot denied the allegations. “We’ve had three consecutive years of no findings in our audits. Our finances are in great shape,” Gallot said. “I’ve always maintained an open-door policy to all students who’d like to meet with me to address any campus concerns they may have.”

Read the entire letter below.

GMen Letter to ULS Board
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