By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Grambling's interim president, Cynthia Warrick, wasted no time in making changes in the beleagured Tigers athletic department.
The day after she began her tenure, she fired removed athletic director Aaron James and men's basketball coach Joseph Price from their positions.
"My primary focus as interim president is to move Grambling State University to a competitive position of excellence at every level," Warrick said in a statement issued by the University. "I have started the process of making several strategic changes in my administrative team, which is a customary practice in transitions such as this. The significant challenges facing Grambling make these decisions even more important, and I am committed to assembling the best talent possible in order to move the University forward."
James told The News-Star (La) newspaper that he found out through a letter from the president's office.
"I didn't foresee it coming, but I do understand when you change
president's — I've been in the system long enough — a lot of times the
president's have the people they want to bring into different positions,
and I do understand that," James said to the paper in a story published by The News Star. "It caught me off guard a little. Between working with athletics and
playing professional basketball, those types of things happen all the
time. I would have preferred that (the news came in person
meeting), but whether you have a conversation or get a letter, it's the
The Grambling athletic department has gone through several highly-publicized controversies. In 2013, only two years removed from winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference title but a then 1-10 season after that, Grambling and Super Bowl hero Doug Williams was fired. Williams said it was more political than it was for what was happening on the field, mainly having to do with an outside group of Grambling boosters who were raising funds to support the football program. Williams said former president Frank Pogue, opposed the fundraising by the group.
Football players were unhappy with Williams' firing, along with conditions of their facilities and having to make long travel weekends by bus. They eventually walked out on a meeting with Pogue, boycotted a game at Jackson State and became a national story about player treatment. Ragland was fired and replaced by assistant coach Dennis "Dirt" Winston.
The Grambling mens basketball program had fallen on hard times in recent years, enduring an 0-28 season in 2012-13. Price was 5-52 during his two seasons - including a 45-game Division I losing streak - at Grambling, but seemed to finally be turning the program around.
He won't get to see the fruits of those labors.
"I feel great about the progress we made with the program over the last two years," Price said in a statement published by the News-Star (La.). "When I took the head coach position, Grambling was facing serious NCAA sanctions that required us to focus on academic eligibility, retention and the team's graduation rate, which in summary is the Academic Progress Rate.
"The program is now past most of the challenges and a foundation has been laid for a successful program," he said. "I believe that Grambling will have a winning season this year, and I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to get the program on the right track."