By Ryan Ulrich,
Sports Business Writer
Grambling State University football has a storied legacy, including a rich tradition and a formula for success which has produced five future NFL hall of famers, and over 100 NFL players. However, the marks of pride and legacy which the program prides itself upon was absent during the previous week.
Following the firing of Doug Williams, who was the second head coach of the current season, Grambling fortified a road game against rival Jackson State, as players complained about travel conditions, and the unsatisfactory program facilities.
Amongst the turmoil the program has encountered, Grambling now will face a lawsuit, from none other than the team they stood up, Jackson State. Citing that the rivalry game was set for homecoming week and estimating that the cancellation cost the school and city millions of dollars, Jackson State has decided to sue Grambling for the financial losses that were incurred.
Jackson State has claimed that the homecoming game annually attracts at least 20,000 fans to the stadium, yet because of the cancellation, the money for tickets was refunded and the game was replaced with a team scrimmage.
According to sbnation.com, Eric Stringfellow, executive director of Jackson State University Communications claimed that, “the JSU family was damaged. Our Homecoming game draws tens of thousands of fans. The university intends to use litigation to be made whole for our direct and indirect financial losses.”
Even though Jackson State did face financial losses which seemingly are unable to be remunerated, Grambling is not in a particularly comfortable financial situation. The basis of the game being canceled by Grambling was due to the fact that the team was forced to travel from New Orleans to Indianapolis on a bus.
Additionally, the facilities Grambling utilizes for practice and weight training were reported as being moldy and decrepit. It is unclear what Jackson State wishes to acquire monetarily from Grambling, as Grambling is simply not in a suitable position to be allocating additional funds. It has been documented that necessary maintenance, which has continually been deferred on Grambling State’s campus, has reached $1.8 billion, as the university continues to deal with limited funds from trifling state subsidy.
The issue seems to arise in the fact that Grambling simply did not provide a sufficient amount of time in notifying Jackson State that they would not be attending the game. As Stringfellow explains, “Grambling repeatedly assured us its team would travel to Jackson. Late Friday afternoon, they informed us their student athletes would not travel to Jackson for our scheduled game.”
According to Grambling State spokesman Will Sutton, officials at the school expected the football team to travel and play the game. Sutton claims that people realized what the repercussions would be if the team simply did not show up to play.
The repercussions are only fully coming into fruition, as it appears that a moldy gym floor is no longer Grambling State University’s biggest problem.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 29 print edition.
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