(Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part look at GSU Vice President for Athletics Dr. Trayvean Scott. The first part of the series was published by the LPJ on Wednesday.)
By T. Scott Boatright
After 10 years as a member of the athletic staff at his collegiate alma mater— Southern University -— Dr. Trayvean Scott was introduced as the new Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics at Grambling State University on July 1.
Scott admits that he has already been questioned about what being part of the annual showdown pitting Grambling against Southern in the Bayou Classic at the Caesar’s Palace Superdome in New Orleans will be like for him after trading Jaguar spots for Tiger stripes.
“Somebody asked me if the Bayou Classic is going to be weird for me?,” Scott said. “And I said, ‘Why would it be?’ I’m almost the equivalent of a guy who everybody in the room loves at some level. Obviously there’s going to be some people who don’t, but by and large, I have two families now.
“What I’ve been part of accomplishing as a Southernite is something that no one can ever take away from me. But the road that lies ahead here at such a storied institution, what I think is the most recognizable brand out of all the HBCUs, is far too great an opportunity to pass up, especially under the leadership of Richard J. Gallot, Jr.
“The fact that he and the search committee thought that high enough of me to bestow us with this opportunity to lead such a storied institution is incredible. I’m in Baton Rouge all the time, I’m in Ruston all the time, and it’s like having two families. I don’t think I can go wrong. But right now my tone and tenor as it relates to my mentality on moving this department forward lies with ‘The G’ on Exit 81. We’re going to make Grambling State University athletics as powerful of a program as we can, and I’m going to use the ‘E’ word — an elite program.
Scott said he’s ready for the opportunity as well as the challenge to work toward making that happen.
“As a matter of fact, I embrace it,” Scott said. “We’re looking at working to establish an elite level athletic department across the board — not just football, not just basketball. I don’t want to lose a game at hopscotch. That’s just going to be our mentality. As administrators, we’ve got to create that culture that will trickle down to our coaches, and then down to our student athletes.
“And we’re well on our way. We’re excited about it — beyond excited about how we can move this department forward over the year to two years, tops.’
Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) athletics, and football in particular, are riding a wave of increased number of televised games and interest in HBCU athletics, and that’s something Scott said he realizes and wants to work to take advantage of.
“I think it’s an exciting time, but I think it’s also a time for us to go back and reflect on the history of our leagues, especially the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and chart a path forward in developing strategic partnerships and branding opportunities for our member institutions,” Scott said. “Thus far I believe (SWAC Commissioner Charles McClelland) has done a great job of leveraging the SWAC’s brand and has been able to provide clarity and understanding through our university presidents and athletic directors on what the strategic direction of the conference office is.
“Obviously we were able to bring the two Florida schools (new SWAC members Florida A&M and Bethune Cookman, which joined the conference this fall) in. And then bringing that football coach to the school on I-55 (new Jackson State head football coach Deon Sanders) has really drummed up some attention.
“One thing about being a Southern grad and Grambling AD is that as both I feel the same way about that school on Interstate 55. I will never mention their name. But with that we’ve got an incredible opportunity not only to highlight our institutions and brands but to also be advocates for social justice and come of the racial issues that are permeating throughout our country. So all of this has given us an additional platform.”
Scott gave the trip to Canton, Ohio, that the GSU football team took earlier this month to face Tennessee State in the Back College Hall of Game Classic in the 2021 fall football season opener as an example.
“We went to Canton and our student athletes had the opportunity to tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum and play the game on the NFL Network and play at the Hall of Fame Stadium,” Scott said. “The team was given that opportunity because first, they’re Grambling and the outstanding leadership we have from legends like Doug Williams and James Harris. Think about the notoriety provided to Grambling State and Tennessee State by playing that game.
“But also, think about the cultural experience those student athletes got that they will cherish for the rest of their lifetimes. I’m a first-year AD and had never been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I got to check that off my bucket list. That kind of thing is critical when trying to advance the brand and mission of these institutions — to play on a platform like the NFL Network.
“Then to be victorious while gaining that cultural experience and providing an opportunity for social advocacy throughout our nation through the platform of sports is priceless. We’ve become the benefactor of a heightened level of play across the Southwestern Athletic Conference because of the visionary leadership of our presidents.
“I will continue to laud my president for his ability to be transformative and Dr. McClelland for coming in as a former AD at the one of the schools (Texas Southern University) that has the most resources in the league and being able to leverage that to provide clarity and understanding through the presidents to the ADs in taking that additional step to provide that platform throughout the league is something that we will continue to really be able to advance based on.”
Scott said he has many things to be excited about right now, and being a part of “The G” is the foundation of all of it.
“I’m at what I believe is the most reputable and recognizable HBCU. Even with the expanded league and coaching changes and some of our opportunities with the level of play for our sports elevating, this is still Grambling. This is still ‘The G.’
“Knowing and understanding that, we have a big responsibility to be able to elevate even further and at a more accelerated rate, to ensure that we can keep up with the competitive excellence and success that is so great a part of not only Grambling’s history, but also its future.”
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