After boycotting their Saturday matchup against Jackson State University, Grambling State University football players wrote a letter to school administrators listing the reasons for their disquiet. According to ESPN, which obtained a copy of the letter, students complained about unsafe and unhealthy school facilities, the poor condition of uniforms and equipment, and head coach Doug Williams’ firing.
Grambling, a historically black, public university located in Grambling, La., is home to the late Hall of Fame coach Eddie Robinson. Financial woes, including a 57 percent cut in state funding over recent years, have deeply affected the school’s athletic program.
“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 students wrote. School spokesman Will Sutton said local health inspectors have recommended changes, although they did not deem the facilities hazardous.
The student letter charged that uniforms are not cleaned properly and have caused several cases of staph infection. Players also complained about a 17-hour bus ride and out-of-pocket costs for Gatorade during practices.
Grambling officials met over the weekend to work towards a compromise and avoid future boycotts. Several players have called for the resignation of school President Frank Pogue, but that scenario seems unlikely.
“I’m on the players’ side now,” said former Grambling offensive lineman and NFL player Herman Arvie, who was initially taken aback by the team’s actions. “I didn’t realize what these players were facing, and I am proud of these guys for taking a stand.”
Including Saturday’s forfeit, Grambling has lost 18 consecutive games against NCAA teams.
“If people want to get this fixed, there are two things they can do: Make a donation to the Grambling Foundation and the other is lobby legislators to fund Grambling at the level it should be funded,” Sutton said.