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New coach cuts entire college volleyball team after two months on the job; scholarships won't be renewed: 'I'm sick to my stomach,' one player says

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Image source: YouTube screenshot

After just two months on the job, the new coach for Grambling State University's volleyball team cut all 19 players from the squad Monday based on their performances in three practices — a move that also eliminated their scholarships, KSLA-TV reported.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

What are the details?

The Louisiana college on Feb. 14 announced that Chelsey Lucas was hired as the new head coach of the Lady Tigers.

According to Sports Illustrated, Lucas is a 2007 Grambling graduate who coached three years at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, where she posted a 37–44 overall record and a 37–17 mark in conference play. Before that, she coached three seasons at Alcorn State, the magazine added.

Maurisa Harris — who played three years for Grambling State — told KSLA the coaching staff sent all members of the squad messages about individual meetings, and at those meetings, players were told their scholarships wouldn't be renewed based on their performances at three practices this semester. Harris added to the station that the move left many of her teammates scrambling to transfer to other college programs late in the off-season.

“She said that we weren’t able to practice much, which we weren’t, and she said based off of that, she was not able to renew my scholarship, so I didn’t really get any time to show what I could do," Harris noted to KSLA. "When I was in there, and she told me, my heart completely broke. ... I didn’t cry in there, but I did when I left, and it just hurts really bad, the fact that it was snatched away so fast."

Sophomore player Destiny Johnson also was taken aback by Lucas' move, Sports Illustrated said.

“I have to say I am actually sick to my stomach," Johnson tweeted Monday. "All the time, energy, [and] dedication I put into the volleyball program here at Grambling State has been thrown right back in my face. My entire team has been robbed of our last years to play the sport we love by a woman who has come in and disrespected and belittled us since day 1. I’m so upset that the [athletic director] has made no effort to look further into this. Grambling State University, especially the athletic department, should be truly ashamed of themselves. We deserve so much better than this. It's all good, though; I know God has so much better in store for me ..."

What did athletics department staff have to say?

Athletics communications director Brian Howard told the station the athletics department knew Lucas would be making some roster changes, but he said he didn't know to what extent. And while the coach's move wasn't previously discussed, Howard told KSLA that's acceptable because such changes are at the coach’s discretion.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Howard added to the station that it was Lucas' "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. 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.”

Athletic Director Trayveon Scott issued a statement this week that reads, "Just as the transfer portal empowers student-athletes, our coaches are also empowered to make the decisions they deem necessary to advance their programs," KSLA said.

The station said Lucas didn't respond to its request for comment on her decision. But a subsequent KSLA story quoted the head coach as saying, “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.”

Anything else?

Parents of high schoolers set to play for the Grambling State volleyball team this fall told KSLA that their scholarships also are no longer being honored.

A family member of one prospective player told the station the coaching staff sent the following email from Lucas this week: “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.”

KSLA, citing sources, said some players who were cut are holding a meeting this week to discuss possible courses of action.

Entire Grambling Volleyball Team Cut youtu.be

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