Statement of Sally Clausen, President of the University of Louisiana System Regarding Efforts to Retain Doug Williams as Head Coach of Grambling State University – Feb 17, 2004
UL System President Sally Clausen, Board Chair Mike Woods, board member and Grambling alumnus Walter Rhodes, board member Andre Coudrain and Grambling alumnus and local State Representative Rick Gallot flew to Tampa, Florida today for a meeting with Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Bruce Allen.
Grambling Head Coach Doug Williams announced last week he had accepted an administrative position with the Buccaneers. The purpose of today’s meeting was to request that the Buccaneers allow Coach Williams an opportunity to reconsider his decision.
We met with Mr. Allen for about an hour today. After allowing us to make our case, he informed us that the Buccaneers would not allow Coach Williams to reconsider his decision to leave Grambling. It was gracious of him to give us to the courtesy of a meeting.
Professional football is a business. The Buccaneers saw an opportunity to hire a legend and made him a strong offer. We respect that. We knew going in that the odds were against us. Mr. Allen had offered us no hope of changing his mind, but we made the trip because we thought there might be a small chance that we could influence him.
This is a pivotal time for Grambling, with the search for a new president underway. As Grambling’s management board, it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to support the next president and build a successful future for the university. We saw this trip as part of that effort. That is why our Board Chair offered the use of his plane and Mr. Coudrain provided lunch. They considered it that important.
Far too often, we allow talent to walk out of the door without challenge. We were not going to allow that to happen in this case. I just wish that we had been able to discuss the Buccaneers’ offer with Williams prior to Thursday. Maybe we could have convinced him to stay.
I’m sure I speak for the Grambling community when I say Coach Williams will always have a home there. We are disappointed, but we congratulate the Buccaneers and wish Coach Williams luck in his new position.
QUOTE FROM UL SYSTEM BOARD CHAIR MIKE WOODS:
“Coach Williams is an icon in American sports, a wonderful mentor to students and a legend at Grambling,” Woods said. “It was worth our time and effort to keep him because we think the next Grambling president would benefit from his presence. It would have been irresponsible of us to let him go without a public plea to keep him.”
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