On Friday, Grambling State canceled its football game against Jackson State after Grambling's disgruntled players refused to travel from their Louisiana campus to Jackson, Miss., for the game Saturday.
School officials are meeting this weekend in an effort to reach a resolution with the disgruntled players and avoid any more forfeits, school spokesman Will Sutton said. Among those meeting are university president Frank Pogue, athletic director Aaron James and Dennis "Dirt" Winston, the team's third coach this season.
"It's horrible," Pogue said of the situation in an interview with ESPN. "Grambling is the institution when it comes to athletics. Whether Eddie Robinson -- there are legends abound. So it's horrible when the focus is in the negative on athletics."
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.
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.
"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.
Pogue told ESPN he didn't know "specifically" about the mold and ceilings, but that "he had staff members who knew and a coach who should have known and brought it to everyone's attention."
According to the letter, players have been complaining for some time that Gatorade and the supplement Muscle Milk were not supplied during summer camp or workouts.
"We had to pay for those expensive items ourselves," the letter states. "We were also forced to get water from hoses underneath the stadium in 90 degree plus weather."
As has also been reported, players took exception to the fact that they had to travel by bus to Kansas City and Indianapolis.
"One trip was 14 hours while the other was 17," the letter says. "Players were drained and exhausted after those long rides."
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