RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A source tells NBC12 that Virginia Union football players and university president Hakim Lucas met on Wednesday evening to discuss the players' concerns over the termination of head coach Mark James. The players also pleaded for the coach's eventual retention.
James was fired on Monday after four seasons at the head of the Panther football program. Two sources claim the move was made by athletic director Joe Taylor as retribution for James' firing his son following last season. Taylor denied that allegation in an interview with NBC12's Matt Estreich on Tuesday night.
Taylor is also denying a source's claim that he used profanity and called the players "losers" and "thugs" during a meeting Monday in which he informed them of James' firing. Taylor says "we don't create issues, we solve them," and says the change will bring new discipline and character to the program.
"It's a new day on this campus in terms of discipline, being a good student, understanding that good decision making, that your character is in place, is paramount, because it's more to it than a game, it's about preparing young folks for life after college," Taylor said. The Panthers' athletic director adds that the school will be accepting applications for the vacant head coaching position through December 1, and make the decision from there.
If there was a problem among the program, it didn't appear to be on the field. In James' four seasons at the helm, Virginia Union held a 26-15 record and snapped a 24 year playoff drought in 2015.
Lucas will reportedly make a final decision on James' future by Friday.