Student athletes have it bad, and from the looks of the grievances documented by Grambling State football players, they’re quite valid. Last Friday, players decided not to travel for the Tigers’ game at Jackson State this Saturday, according to the Gramblinite. On top of the firing of football coaches, the players have a list of grievances a mile long.
In an open letter to university officials, Grambling’s players complained of mold and mildew on equipment and in facilities, having to pay for Gatorade out of their own pockets and even said which assistants they thought would make a good interim coach after the firing of Doug Williams.
The players’ letter says “there are certain factors that are hindering us from reaching our goals” and then elaborates on many of them.
The athletic complex “is in horrible condition, and has many hazards that may contribute to our overall health,” the letter says. “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.”
As has been reported before, the players say that the floor is coming up in the weight room, but the letter also asks that the university supply better detergent for uniforms.
“The uniforms are poorly cleaned and contribute to the multiple cases (of) staph infection,” the letter reads. “Several players have been infected with staph multiple times.”
A group of 26 photos obtained by Gomez from an unnamed Grambling State player appears to illustrate some of the players’ complaints.
Several of the photographs show walls and ceiling tiles and even player equipment that appear to be covered in mold or mildew. Other photos show floors from the facility’s weight-training room missing wide sections of its rubberized floor tiles, and torn and tattered covers to some of the room’s weightlifting benches.
Sutton said that local health department inspectors, acting on an anonymous tip, recently visited Grambling athletic facilities and recommended changes to improve conditions, but did not deem those facilities a health hazard.
An anonymous Grambling State player supplied this photo of what appears to be mold or mildew on equipment.
Sutton added that buildings throughout campus, including the library, have similar problems because of neglect, and that the conditions football players have complained of are symptomatic of problems campus-wide stemming from substantial budget cuts.
The letter also listed travel complaints. Apparently the team has travelled by bus for as long as 17 hours, while the the president and athletic director traveled by plane. Will Sutton, a spokesperson for the university, addressed a few of the team’s complaints to ESPN:
“When you have your budget slashed by 57 percent, you have to make choices,” Sutton said, adding that the school would “love” to fly the team to distant road games, but that Grambling was contractually obligated to take its band, cheerleaders and dance team on those two trips. He said those obligations led to the difficult choice to put everyone on buses. Sutton specified that the 57 percent cut in state funding, which has occurred over the past several years, has affected the entire campus, and that athletics was spared significant cuts until this academic year. The athletic department was asked to cut $335,000 from its overall department budget of $6.8 million. Sutton said football was cut by $75,000 to about $2 million.
The letter addressed to university officials can be read here: http://a.espncdn.com/pdf/2013/1019/Grambling_State_Football_Complaints.pdf