Buses intended to transport Grambling State University football players to Jackson State University for their Homecoming game sat empty as players did not show up to board them, a culmination of days of intense meetings and exchanges between players, the university and the student government, and three days of boycotted practices, reports USA Today.
As previously reported by NewsOne, football players have been protesting a wide-array of grievances, including allegedly shoddy weight equipment, inadequate transportation to far away games and a lack of meals during their travels. The student-athletes are reportedly also still upset over the firing of legendary coach Doug Williams on September 11.
Interim head coach George Ragsdale was fired Thursday in the middle of a 0-7 losing season, replaced by defensive coordinator Dennis “Dirt” Winston.
“We felt like we’ve been mistreated,” said Grambling State football player Naquan Smith after addressing more than 100 students who came out to support the team. “The administration is finally addressing some of the facilities issues, but we felt like it should have been done a long time ago. We felt there is a lack of leadership with the administration. We had a personal issue with (interim football coach George Ragsdale) and demanded for him to go. We want (President Frank Pogue) to go.”
Grambling athletics director Aaron James said that departure time for the Jackson State homecoming game was scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but university officials delayed it one hour, giving players until 3:30 p.m. to board the buses.
After it was clear that the team would be a no-show, Grambling University officials told the bus drivers to leave at approximately 3:45 p.m.
Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Duer Sharp said the situation was “very disappointing.”
Read NewsOne’s earlier report on what sparked the athletes’ protests by clicking here.