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Sunday Discussion: The Troubles At Grambling State University

Geek Alabama Discussion

Grambling State University is in the news for all the wrong reasons.  The football team walked out after they complained about several bad situations.  One, they are working out in deplorable conditions.  Two, multiple coaches have been fired.  And three, there are some political infighting and mismanagement within the university administration.  The football team had a great reason to refuse to play.  But this situation at the university goes deep and it’s putting a huge black mark on the entire town of Grambling, Louisiana.

Look, Grambling State University has had a rich tradition with its athletics.  But when the college students have to deal with sub-standard conditions to stay in shape and prepare for their next games.  It puts their safety at risk.  These pictures from The Gramblinite should gross anyone out.  How could anyone train and play in conditions like this?

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Missing weight room rubber floor tiles, mildew and mold on the equipment and walls, weight room equipment seats torn apart, and missing ceiling tiles, among other problems.  It’s not the students complaining, it’s also the state health department.  The Monroe News Star uncovered a recent document from the Louisiana Health Department showing the locker room areas have missing floor tiles and water damage.  So the students are telling the truth.

So what can be done to stop this horrible situation.  One, the State of Louisiana has taken a lot of money away from higher education.  Overall funding has gone from $31.6 million to $13.8 million.  The university has tried to make up the difference by raising tuition and introducing fees.  But asking for more money from students can only take you so far.  Many students attending Grambling State are not rich and are using loans to go to school.  The school has cut employees and are even asking professors to teach a class for free.  So the school is trying to solve the funding crisis, and they have cut to the bone.

Athletics is generating some revenue for the school, but it’s not even close to solving the budget crisis at the school.  When your football program is running a deficit of $1.2 to $1.8 million a year, your players are riding a bus for over 700 miles and getting shutout, your players are buying Gatorade out of their own pockets, and they are practicing and working out in horrible building conditions, something is wrong!  The school is even moving funds around to keep the athletics program afloat.  Now don’t get me wrong, are universities suppose to teach our kids and not become sports factories?

I believe this is a great time for Grambling State University to do something bold, something most universities would never consider, something that would benefit the students and professors who teach at the school.  It’s time for the university to end all athletics programs.  Face it, you are burning through millions of dollars a year to run the athletics programs at the school.  Plus it cost money to maintain all the sports facilities at the school.  Why not take that money you would use for the football team, and upgrade your classrooms, give your students the equipment they need to learn, and bring the entire campus together?

Universities exist to teach people, not to play sports.  I know some of you will say athletics brings together the students, alumni, and staff.  But if you can not even afford to give your players Gatorade in 90 degree weather, something is going wrong.  The players who would like to continue their college athletic careers would be given a chance to transfer to another university without sitting out for a year.  Make your school one of the best learning environments in the country.  Grambling State could easily become a role-model for other universities who are facing similar situations.

Eddie Robinson built a power football program at Grambling State, but if he knew the program is losing millions of dollars a year and is hindering progress at the university.  He would temporary end the football program to make sure the university stays afloat.  The students can still stay active with PE, campus games, and workout rooms.  Grambling State and its students, staff, and alumni needs to take a long look in the mirror.  Do you want to kill the school because football and other sports are that important?  Or do you want to keep the school open but concentrate on academics?  The choice is yours!