Grambling's Problems Are Bigger Than Football

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If you haven't been following along, there is at dire situation going on a Grambling State University. Amid  a crippling budget crisis that has rendered facilities and equipment unplayable, the football team boycotted practicing last week and even forfeited last Saturday's game with Jackson State.  Among the issues the players have raised with the administration:

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."


This is a situation in which no one wins.  It's a huge embarrassment on the University to have conditions so poor that the players would rather not play. And it hurts the players because they aren't getting to play the game they came to Grambling to play and it raises an issue of their scholarships potentially being rescinded.  

But the problems that face Grambling are much bigger than what's taking place on the football field.  HBCUs have historically been grossly underfunded. Many HBCUs in recent years have faced budget crises that have resulted in loss of accreditation, most famously Morris Brown College.

What causes these budget crises? Numerous things. Poor management by the administration. Poor enrollment. Poor alumni donations (as an alumnus of an HBCU, I am also guilty of not donating money since graduating. None of us are perfect. Don't judge me.) 

In the case of Grambling, all of these things probably factor in to the problem in some way.  But a major factor is this: 

Sutton (University Spokesman) 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.

$2 million isn't enough to run a fantasy football league much less a Division 1 football program. The fact is HBCUs operate on a fraction of the budgets of larger universities.  

Listed below are the 10 Top University Endowments In The Country for 2012: 

  1. Harvard University - $30.435 Billion

    Yale University - $19.345  Billion

    University of Texas System (system-wide) - $18.264 Billion

    Stanford University - $17.036 Billion

    Princeton University - $16.954 Billion

    Massachusetts Institute of   Technology - $10.150 Billion

    University of Michigan - $7.691 Billion

    Columbia University - $7.654 Billion

    Texas A&M University System (system-wide) - $7.639 Billion

    Northwestern University - $7.119 Billion

What was Grambling University's Endowment for 2012? $4.5 Million. Yes. Million. Even the HBCU with the Highest Endowment, Howard University at $460 Million, operates on a fraction of what the top tier universities in the country do.

The football players at Grambling are just gonna have to come to grips with a brutal reality. If they want to take part in the tradition of Grambling Football, they will have to make do with less. At the same time, I understand the university's budget plight. Neither side is right or wrong here. None of us win in this. But simply clean up the mold, get these kids back to playing and maybe we won't all lose so publicly.