Jackson State’s homecoming game Oct. 19 was cancelled after opponent Grambling State’s players refused to play, the latest act of a player protest in a tumultuous season that has included no victories and the dismissal of two head coaches.
As a result of the player walkout, Grambling, one of the storied programs in the history of Black college football, forfeited its scheduled match-up with Jackson State resulting in a final score of 1-0, Southwest Athletic Conference Commissioner Duer Sharp ruled.
The Jackson State homecoming festivities nevertheless proceeded without a football game.
The refusal of most Grambling players to even board the buses to make the two-hour trip from Grambling, La. to Jackson, Miss., to play the game is just the latest element in a Grambling player revolt this season. According to USA Today, only 22 players showed up for the scheduled departure of the team buses Friday.
The players were angry about the firing of their head coach, the former Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl XXII MVP Doug Williams. Williams was sacked two games into the season. The players banded together protesting what they say is a lack of respect from university officials, apparently characterized by long bus rides to games as far away as Kansas City, MO. and Indianapolis, Ind., and poor training facilities where mold and mildew were commonplace.
"I'm proud of them boys. They took a stance,'' Williams said in a text message to USA Today.
Grambling President Frank Pogue issued an apology to Jackson State Oct. 19. "We have had our financial challenges this year, and unfortunately too many of our players don't understand the degree of our fiscal challenges. We are sorry," he wrote.
Grambling (0-8, 0-5), winless in its last 12 games and has lost 18 of its last 19 games, faces a fine of $20,000 from the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC). Williams’ replacement was fired Thursday and former pro football standout Dennis “Dirt” Winston was named the interim coach.
The team is scheduled to play Texas Southern Oct. 26 at home.
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