College Volleyball Coach Fired After Cutting Entire Team
By: Anthony Zhang
Chelsey Lucas was hired to coach Grambling State’s women's volleyball team after the previous coach, Demetria Keys-Johnson, stepped down for retirement. Lucas was hired on February 14th, but by April, she dropped all 19 players from the roster. Grambling State, whose administration initially supported Lucas’s actions, announced on July 5th that they fired Lucas and launched an ongoing infestation on the first-year coach.
Lucas’s relationship with the team wasn’t great in the beginning, even before she was their coach. Players speculate that relationships soured after an incident when Arkansas Pine Bluff played Grambling State. “When we played them at home and we beat them, our school has like this chant, but at the end of the chant you say, like, the B-word,” said Grambling State senior Sheila Borders. “I guess she thought I was calling them B-words, but, like, the whole school says it. They say it at basketball games and football games. It’s nothing personal.”
“I bet you didn’t expect to see me again. I bet y’all will think twice about who y’all call a b----,” Lucas said in retaliation. In the weeks after the game, Lucas held three practice sessions, most of which consisted of “punishment drills” such as running laps and suicide splits rather than volleyball-related drills.
The team brushed off these punishments to maintain relationships with Lucas, but to no success. On April 4, Lucas set up individual meetings with 12 scholarship players and told each one that their scholarships were revoked. Seven walk-ons were told their spots would not be renewed. Lucas offered four scholarship players to continue as walk-ons, but all of them declined.
Grambling State’s administration publicly supported the decision, with Athletic Director Trayvean Scott issuing a statement. “Just as the transfer portal empowers student-athletes, our coaches are also empowered to make the decisions they deem necessary to advance their programs.”
Players who were removed started a Change.org petition calling for the termination of Chelsey Lucas and for the school to reinstate players’ scholarships. This petition would gain over 3,700 signatures and lead Grambling State in early May to open an investigation against Chelsey Lucas.
“As we move forward in this transition and commence a national search for the next coach, all volleyball student-athletes who received scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year will keep their scholarships and remain on the team,” Grambling State sports director Scott said. “Walk-ons will also continue to hold their roster spot”.