Jackson State’s homecoming day will go without a football game.
The university announced late Friday afternoon that Grambling State has decided to forfeit today’s game in the wake of protests from players mainly over the firing of coach Doug Williams and long bus travel.
The SWAC said later Friday in a statement Grambling State (0-8, 0-5 SWAC counting the forfeit) is also subject to a monetary fine for failing to compete in a conference contest.
The status of remaining scheduled games for Grambling State is also uncertain. Arkansas-Pine Bluff is scheduled to host Grambling State on Nov. 9.
Other homecoming activities at Jackson State will go on as scheduled. A “Blue and White” scrimmage at 2 p.m. in place of the game.
Tickets purchased for the game will be refunded.
“This is an unfortunate situation for JSU fans, but it is beyond our control,” Jackson State President Carolyn Meyers said in a news release. “I want to encourage the JSU community, including students, alumni and supporters, to participate in the other activities scheduled as part of our Homecoming celebration.”
Jackson State improves to 6-2 and 6-0 in the SWAC with the forfeit.
Grambling State has not issued any public comment on the forfeit. But Grambling State safety Naquan Smith told The News-Star of Monroe, La., the players are not happy with the leadership of school president Frank Pogue and athletic director Aaron James and demand that the two step down. Smith added Grambling State has threatened to take away the players’ scholarships, but he told the newspaper the players are prepared to hire lawyers.
Grambling State players did not board buses that were scheduled to leave for Jackson on Friday afternoon and instead left campus to go home, according to The News-Star.
A meeting among Pogue, James, student government president Jordan Harvey and the players was held Tuesday to address reasons for bus travel to games in Kansas City and Indianapolis and the firing of coach Doug Williams after two games this season, according to The Shreveport Times. The players walked out of that meeting and did not show up for practice Wednesday.
On Thursday, Grambling State fired interim head coach George Ragsdale and promoted defensive coordinator Dennis Winston to that position. Ragsdale, who went 0-5 in the interim, was an assistant under Mo Forte at UAPB in the mid-2000s, and Winston — a former Arkansas standout — is in his first season at Grambling State after serving as defensive line coach at UAPB.