It's July, so that makes it the right time to fire your coach, right? Apparently so if you are Grambling. New University president Cynthia Warrick fired men's basketball coach Joseph Price on Wednesday and reassigned athletic director Aaron James.
It is expected that women's basketball coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs will become the interim athletic director.
The change in leadership of the basketball program took many by surprise, including the players, who had started to play better under Price. When Price took over the Tigers, they were under heavy APR penalties and were banned from the postseason along with other restrictions.
Price managed to pull the program out of the APR danger zone, and Grambling would be eligible to compete in the postseason this coming year.
The ousted coach released a statement Wednesday afternoon touting his success as coach and the changes that his staff had put in place to turn things around:
"I feel great about the progress we made with the program over the last two years. When I took the head coach position, Grambling was facing serious NCAA sanctions that required us to focus on the academic eligibility, retention and the team's graduation rate, which in summary is the Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Through strategic recruiting and monitoring the academic progress of our players, my staff and I were able to lead the program out of these sanctions and on a pathway to success in just two years. When you consider the fact that we were working in a limited resource environment, this was equivalent to working a miracle."
The timing of this change within the program is odd. Yes, it is the new fiscal year, so you have that excuse in your back pocket, and you are a new president, so you are given some leeway to make changes.
But Price was making progress under extreme circumstances. He may have been just 5-32 in his two seasons, but the team won three conference games, and advanced past the first round of the SWAC Tournament, in which they were allowed to play, beating a talented Jackson State team.
Now Grambling is essentially back to square one, and given the changes that tend to occur after coaching changes, Grambling might even be starting in the negative.