Grambling State University‘s football team has reportedly skipped a practice and team meeting this week over what has been reported as frustration over how the players feel they have been disrespected by administration and a number of other issues that span several years, the Shreveport Times reports.
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On Tuesday, the players meet with university president Frank Pogue, athletic director Aaron James, interim coach George Ragsdale and student government president Jordan Harveyto to discuss why they had to take buses to away games in cities like Kansas City and Indianapolis. The players were also reportedly angry over the firing of head coach Doug Williams in mid-September.
But as the meeting became increasingly negative, all of the players walked out, according to several sources interviewed by the newspaper. University spokesperson spokesman Will Sutton said the meeting was intended to show support for the players, but “some” of them choose to leave.
Here is more from the Times:
“(The administration) knew that emotions were raw,” Sutton said. “No matter what, it was going to be a challenge for the team to feel good after this season and last season.
“That’s part of the reason why we have a new (athletics director) and are looking for a new football coach. The president wanted to make a point that the university supports and appreciates the team and these students, and that the administration will do everything we need to do for the future success of the program.”
The source said the teams’ frustrations have been boiling over a period time. Those frustrations include what’s considered as general disrespect from administration, not receiving all meals on road trips, taking a bus to distant locations like Kansas City and Indianapolis and the poor state of facilities like the weight room.
Players attended morning weight training until the session abruptly ended after one player was kicked out after voicing his opinion in Tuesday’s meeting. All players left the weight training session.
That walk-on was initially dismissed from the team, but the source said he was admitted back to the team and that Ragsdale is considering a suspension instead.
The reported unhappiness from the players, however, may not be solely connected to internal issues with Grambling. As Deadspin outlined, funding for higher education in the state of Louisiana has taken a major hit and the affect on Grambling was severe:
But the roots of the problem go much deeper. In 2009, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal turned down stimulus money from the federal government. That same year, Jindal cut $219 million in state funds for higher education, including $5 million that would have been earmarked for Grambling. In January 2012, Jindal announced an additional mid-year budget cut of $50 million for higher education, with Grambling losing out on nearly $1 million of that total. This is not chump change.
It gets worse. According to a 2011 university financial report, Grambling’s share of funding from the state of Louisiana was projected to decrease nearly 40 percent by the 2011-12 school year from its peak in 2007-08. According to Frank Pogue, the university president, that figure is now up to more than 50 percent in the last eight years. To help offset the shortfall, the school hacked some $200,000 from its athletics budget in 2010-11. And that same report called for an additional cut of $1.19 million from athletics in 2011-12.
In the meantime, the Grambling State’s football team is reeling this season. So far, the Tigers are 0-7 overall and 0-4 in the SWAC. The team visits Jackson State (5-2, 5-0) this Saturday at 2 p.m.
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