In college sports, athletic scholarships are renewed on a year to year basis. Some players keep theirs, others don’t. It’s entirely up to the coach and or athletic director.
During this time with the transfer portal, players release themselves and move on to see if the grass is greener somewhere else. Players tend to see the writing on the wall without a coach or AD saying their scholarship is being taken away.
This past volleyball season, Grambling’s Volleyball team was 11-17, 8-8 in the SWAC. They had lost in the Quarterfinals of the conference tournament to Alabama State, 3-0. That was under former head coach Demetria Keys-Johnson, who apparently saw enough losing and stepped down to pursue other jobs within the school.
Entering the picture in February after Keys-Johnson’s departure is Chelsey Lucas. Lucas, a 2007 graduate of Grambling State University and a former Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Defensive Player of the Year, along with being a first-team all-conference performer, returns to her alma mater after spending the past three seasons at the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff.
As a player, Lucas was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, anchoring the backline for Grambling State during its run to the SWAC Regular Season title. A 2006 All-SWAC first team selection as a senior, Lucas led the conference with 396 digs, highlighted by a SWAC season’s best 43-dig performance at Texas Southern.
While at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Lucas’ teams compiled a 37-44 overall record and a 27-17 mark inside the SWAC, including going 13-3 in 2021.
Prior to her taking over the reins at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Lucas spent three seasons at SWAC member institution Alcorn State. While at Alcorn State, the Lady Braves saw gradual success on the court, posting a 10-20 overall mark in 2018, which was seven more victories than the previous season and a 6-12 record in the SWAC, an improvement of six wins.
In 2018, the Lady Braves’ six conference wins were the most in the program since the 2003 season. Alcorn ranked second in the nation in aces per set at 1.98. Individually, sophomore Fiapaipai Iosia ranked third in the nation with in aces per set at 0.66.
Coach Lucas’ playing career has not been the topic of discussion here this week. It was a bold move to show the administration and fans of the Tigers program that she is determined and willing to do what it takes to produce a winner at her alma mater.
The bold move made by the Tigers new head coach is she had decided to cut the entire team. According to media reports and the coach, the team was notified about the change in the roster during the first week in April. The roster includes all 19 players. This means the now-controversial transfer portal, which had 1,247 in it, can add 19 more looking to move on.
According to reports, athletic program adminstrators knew Coach Lucas would be making some changes within the program, but did not know it would be this drastic. These changes are at the coach’s discretion. Players are saying that Coach Lucas called individual meetings with each player and told them their scholarships were not going be renewed.
According to recruiting websites, Coach Lucas has at least 15 quality players coming into the program. So in her first year, she immediately wants her own players from the beginning and not wait to year two or three.
Athletic Director Dr. Trayveon Scott also issued a statement this week. It 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.”