The state’s budget crisis that recently hit Louisiana has now claimed its first fatality for the year, and its sports.
In a letter over the weekend Grambling State University President Dr. Willie Larkin announced that Grambling is suspending its search for a new athletic director due to the “uncertainty around the University’s budget.”
Stated in Larkin’s letter, he says “After carefully considering all of my options, I have decided to temporarily suspend the search for a new Athletics Director. With all of the uncertainty around the University’s budget, I cannot in good conscience proceed with the search process. Because of the critical nature of the financial crisis in the State of Louisiana, we will delay our process until we can see a clear way forward. I.”
The current interim athletic director is Obadiah Simmons Jr. Simmons has held the position since May 2015 and has also been the interim head and director of the Department of Kinesiology, Sport and Leisure Studies since 2008. There has not been a permanent athletic director since Aaron James was fired in 2014. Since the search for a new athletic director has began, the university received applicants and a committee to search and screen candidates had been put together.
“As university leaders and supporters, we must make decisions that are in the best interest of the University as a whole. I offer my sincerest of apologies to the Search and Screen Committee, the search firm and most of all, the candidates who placed their names in the pool of applicants for this coveted position,” Larkin wrote.
“I also want to express my disappointment to the faculty, students, staff and alumni who were anticipating that we would be able to conclude with a successful search. However, I am confident that all parties involved will come to the same conclusion that I did; the timing is just not right.”
As interim athletic director, Simmons provides administrative direction and oversight for Grambling’s 17-sport athletics program and activities and supervises the control of compliance with applicable National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and University rules and regulations governing all facets of intercollegiate athletics. An alumni of Grambling, Simmons received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1974, earned his masters in physical education (MAT) from the University of North Carolina in 1976 and earned his doctoral degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University in 1988.
Dr. Simmons has served as Chair on the NCAA Athletics Certification Self-Study Steering Committee (2008), chair on the Grambling State University Athletic Council (2008-present), University Policy Review Committee member (2008-present) and Institutional Representative for the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame Nominating Committee (2006-present).