Grambling State Players to Return to Practice After Walkout

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 21, 2013

Sep 08, 2012; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Grambling State Tigers quarterback D.J. Williams (4) hands off the ball to running back Dawrence Roberts (43) during the first half against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Grambling State football team returned to practice on Monday after walking out last week and causing the cancellation of a scheduled game against Jackson State.

SportsCenter's official Twitter account broke the news:

A meeting with administrators last Tuesday did not accomplish much, as all players involved left, leading to no one participating in Grambling State's Wednesday practice, per Matt Vines of the Shreveport Times.

Vines cited a source who shed more light on the situation:

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.

As Sean Isabella and Daniel Uthman of USA Today reported, only 22 players showed up for the scheduled bus trip to Jackson, Miss., for Saturday's game. Players met with administrators again this weekend to try to resolve the matter.

The issues included the above traveling arrangements bus rather than plane for games, poorly maintained facilities and the firing of former head coach Doug Williams, among other concerning factors.

According to ESPN.com news services, mold and mildew had been discovered on players' uniforms and equipment in addition to the facilities, which has caused multiple cases of staph infection. That was outlined in a letter ESPN's Pedro Gomez obtained that players sent to the administration.

Credit: LostLettermen.com
Credit: LostLettermen.com

Here is an example of mildew on a set of shoulder pads, courtesy of LostLettermen.com.

Williams said he was proud that approximately 75 percent of his former players took a stance by refusing to play in their most recent game, per Isabella and Uthman.

"I'm proud of them boys. They took a stance," said Williams.

However, it was also Williams who urged them to return to the practice field, according to this latest news.

This excerpt from the players' letter gets into more of the specifics of the mildew and mold issue, which is arguably the most repulsive of all and had to impact the players' desire to practice in the first place, per ESPN.com:

First, the complex is filled with mildew and mold. Mildew and mold can be seen on the ceiling, walls and floor, and are contributing to water leaks because of faltering walls and ceilings. [...]

The uniforms are poorly cleaned and contribute to the multiple cases (of) staph infection. Several players have been infected with staph multiple times.

For a team of college football players to stage a walkout, it has to be severe. That appears to be the case here with seemingly oppressive, hazardous obstacles impeding the progress of a historic football program.

The story has been given national attention, and ESPN's Darren Rovell reports that the company Muscle Milk is helping out the team:

Muscle Milk says it is sending 4,608 bottles of its product to Grambling football team, enough to get team through season

— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 22, 2013

Muscle Milk's donation to Grambling isn't small: Here's what 384 cases (4,608 bottles) looks like pic.twitter.com/NQrSfmWTvl

— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 22, 2013

The Tigers went 1-10 last season and are winless in eight games this year, including the forfeit to Jackson State, but the larger issue is the infrastructure of their athletics department and the poor services provided to their players.

School spokesman Will Sutton tried to defend some of the shortcomings by alluding to the 57 percent budget cut of state funds that has taken place over the past few years, per the ESPN article.

A stand has been made, though, and hopefully all the legitimate concerns raised by the team can be resolved in swift order.