Days after it was suggested that Grambling State’s new volleyball coach had cut the entire roster, the school’s athletic director attempted to clarify what transpired within the program.
Trayvean Scott, in an interview with a Louisiana television station, dispelled rumors that head coach Chelsey Lucas was “bringing an entire team” to replace current players and prospective recruits.
“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 also said that he supports Lucas’ autonomy to make roster changes, and any players with concerns were encouraged to discuss them.
Also read: ‘We deserve so much better’: Grambling State volleyball players say coach cuts entire roster
Brian Howard, a spokesman for Grambling’s athletic department, told KSLA-TV that recruiting efforts have already started to replace the players who were cut from the roster.
“It’s her decision to make, and she has some quality players coming on board,” Howard said. “I think 13 or 14 are coming on board at some point. So, I hate to say out with the old, but in with the new a little bit.”
Open tryouts reportedly took place on Thursday involving three players not associated with the current team, according to a source familiar with the Grambling volleyball program.
A parent of an in-coming player provided an email reportedly from Lucas that explained her daughter wouldn’t have a letter of intent honored.
“As the head coach of the Grambling State University Volleyball team, the decisions are made for the entire GSU Volleyball Program,” a portion of the message said. “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.”
‘It was more punishment than practice’
A freshman walk-on player part of the 2021 team told HBCU Sports that Lucas explained to the team she would evaluate the roster to determine current and future standing within the program.
There was immediate speculation among Grambling players that the first-year coach wanted to purge the roster as payback for alleged disrespect expressed toward Lucas when she coached last season at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the player said.
“She (Lucas) said, ‘I bet you didn’t think you would see me again,'” the player recounted regarding a comment Lucas was accused of making during an initial team meeting where comparisons were often made between the Grambling roster and the UAPB roster.
A photo taken during a Feb. 26 Grambling State men’s basketball game — which has since circulated online in recent days — showed what appeared to be several ex-UABP players in the stands with Lucas. That image sparked internal team speculation that Lucas wanted to recruit players from her former school.
The player, who requested anonymity because her situation with the team is unresolved, said the Lucas proclamation to fairly evaluate the roster was surprising considering the group had only participated in four formal offseason team practices.
“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.”
The player also alleged that she was subjected to bullying by Lucas that involved being singled out and treated harshly for mistakes which resulted in a team punishment.
“At that point, I just couldn’t take it anymore,” she said about the incident that led to her leaving a practice. “I wasn’t disrespectful to her, but I can’t take that. She didn’t want us here in the first place. Why would I stay?”
Currently, the player’s future — like many of her teammates — is uncertain. As of now, she explained that “it would be difficult to transfer” without assurances the academic credits accumulated at Grambling would be accepted at another school or whether there is a potential roster spot available elsewhere.
“It’s just a whole lot of things that go into it that I’m going to have to figure out,” she said. “I have finals (exams) coming up. It’s just a lot at one time.”
Lucas, a former Grambling volleyball player, was hired after a three-year stint at UAPB. While there, Lucas’ teams compiled a 37-44 overall record and a 27-17 mark in the SWAC, including going 13-3 in 2021. She also previously coached at Alcorn State.
The Tigers finished this past season 11-17 and 8-8 in the SWAC under then-head coach Demetria Keys-Johnson, who stepped down last December.
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