Grambling players refuse to travel, game canceled
By DAVID BRANDT
The Associated Press | October 19,2013
JACKSON, Miss. — Grambling canceled its football game against Jackson State after Grambling’s disgruntled players refused to travel to Jackson for the game Saturday.
Jackson State officials announced the cancellation Friday night. Athletic department spokesman Wesley Peterson told The Associated Press that Grambling officials contacted Jackson State about 5 p.m. CDT to inform them of the decision.
Grambling spokesman Will Sutton had said earlier in a text to the AP that there would be “no forfeit” and that Grambling officials were trying to determine the next step to take.
Apparently, nothing could be worked out so that the game could be played. Grambling officials have not released a statement on the cancellation.
Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Duer Sharp said according to league rules, Grambling will forfeit and the school will be fined.
“I’ve been in contact with the schools and they informed me the game is going to be canceled,” Sharp said. “It’s just a very disappointing situation when something like this happens. But we’ll do everything we can with these schools to reach an understanding moving forward.”
Friday’s apparent player boycott was the latest in three days of upheaval for Grambling’s proud program — which rose to prominence under coach Eddie Robinson. Several media outlets have reported that players did not attend practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of issues with program and school leadership.
Grambling (0-7) has changed coaches twice in about two months. Doug Williams was fired two games into the season and replaced by George Ragsdale, who was reassigned Thursday and replaced by Dennis “Dirt” Winston.
The game is Jackson State’s homecoming and could hurt the school financially. The Grambling-Jackson State matchup usually draws very well — an announced crowd of more than 21,000 attended the game in Jackson in 2011.
Jackson State spokeswoman Jean Cook said the school would still have homecoming festivities, featuring the homecoming parade, a football scrimmage and extended band performance. The school said it’s working on a process to refund tickets.
“It’s not ideal,” Cook said. “But we’re trying to make the best of things.”
Louisiana state senator Rick Gallot, a Democrat from Ruston and a Grambling graduate, says he hopes a resolution can still be reached.
“I am still optimistic that not only will the situation with the scheduled game with Jackson State be resolved and the teams will play, but I am also optimistic that leadership issues and the concerns of the student-athletes will all be fleshed out and addressed and we’ll be able to return to a semblance of normalcy on campus,” Gallot said.