The Gutting of Grambling Golf
By Torleif Sorenson on 10/30/13
Even if you're not serious college football fan, you probably saw the news about the Grambling State University football team boycotting and forfeiting their recent game against Jackson (Mississippi) State University. The protest brought light to the mold and mildew in the football team's facilities, which are pretty bad by anyone's standards, and to players having to supply their own food and beverages.

In a very controversial and bitterly-contested decision, Grambling administrators fired popular football coach (and former Super Bowl hero) Doug Williams in September over the coach's private fundraising for a badly-needed replacement floor in their weight-lifting room. University administration complained that Williams did his fundraising without coordinating the effort through them, then put the new flooring material in locked storage, so that it could not be installed or used.

Now, ESPN senior golf writer Farrell Evans has written this excellent article about the demise of the men's and women's golf teams at Grambling. Part of the article centers around the Rev. Tegitra Thomas, a Baptist pastor in Monroe, Louisiana. Rev. Thomas served as the coach of both the men's and women's golf teams at Grambling State University while serving at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Hodge, a town not far from the university. During his tenure as coach, Thomas and his students were forced to practice in an often-muddy field near the school's old football field. Thomas often drove his teams to their matches and tournaments at his own expense, too.

Arguably, the most successful Grambling golf alumnus is Jonathan Coleman, who became the first golfer in school history to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Regional Tournament. Coleman told Evans about his time there:
"It was pretty tough at Grambling just because we knew there were other schools that had things we didn't have," said Coleman, a 24-year-old Cincinnati native who now plays on mini tours in the Las Vegas area. "I took it upon myself to find ways of practicing. Even on days when we didn't have a scheduled team event, Coach Thomas and I would get together to play.

"So instead of going to basketball and football games, I would go practice. I had to figure out what I needed to get it done and go do it. It was a lot of hard work."
All of that was before school administrators slashed the golf teams in a fit of budget cutting.

In his article, Evans also quoted former NFL player Eddie Payton, the golf coach at Jackson State who had Coleman on his team during Coleman's senior year. Understandably, Coach Payton is not complimentary toward Grambling administrators:
"The rationale for cutting these programs is asinine. Golf is one of the least expensive sports to fund. To protect their football programs, which are their cash cow, the administrations at several of these historically black colleges are missing an opportunity to put money into the development of African-American kids in the hope that one of them might be good enough to become the next Tiger Woods, a role model for millions of black kids and bring prestige to the university.

"If our administrators and our people who lead our athletic programs can't go out and raise additional revenue through creative ways like partnerships with corporate America, then we're all going to perish and we won't be an existing competitive body."
Indeed, with many large and medium-sized private sector firms deeply involved with professional golf sponsorships, it seems that the only reasonable explanation for the dearth of contributions is the current economic recession, which shows no sign of recovery.

But if any people can effectively boost publicity, fundraising, and better marketing of college golf at historically black colleges and universities — and force Grambling State University administrators to bring back their men's and women's golf programs — it is "can-do" people like Coach Payton and the Reverend Thomas. Here's hoping that Farrell Evans' article helps drive golf fans everywhere into helping them bring golf back to Grambling State University.

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
— Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman (1899-1981), American theologian and civil rights leader

"Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that."
— Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

"I admire men of character and I judge character not by how men deal with their superiors, but mostly how they deal with their subordinates. And that, to me, is where you find out what the character of a man is."
— U.S. Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf (1934-2012)

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[ comments ]
Kurt the Knife says:
"take what comfort there is in knowing your cat is getting enough cheese."
mustang6560 says:
If the school can't financially support a golf program then the school can't financially support a golf team.
[ post comment ]
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