Christopher Smith

Grambling State Players Refuse To Travel

Created on Oct. 18, 2013 9:18 PM EST

Grambling State has been forced to cancel its game against Jackson State after the Tigers' disgruntled players refused to travel.

The team was scheduled to depart at 2:30 p.m. CT, according to the Monroe News-Star, but buses remained empty as the schools attempted to convince the players to board before holding a press conference at 5:30 p.m.

"I've been in touch with the SWAC and Jacksonville State University and this has been declared a no-contest," Grambling spokesman Will Sutton said in a statement to the News-Star.

Jackson State won't get to enjoy a football game during homecoming, though fans will be reimbursed for tickets. The cancellation is expected to cost the school money, as the contest drew more than 21,000 last season.

"It's not ideal, but we're trying to make the best of things," Jackson State spokeswoman Jean Cook said.

Players met with administrators Tuesday to express displeasure for, among other things, travel arrangements, an unstable coaching situation and poor facility conditions. Unsatisfied, the group walked out of the meeting and refused to practice starting Wednesday.

Grambling State went 1-10 last season and has lost all seven games this year by an average of 39-13, including consecutive home drubbings of 31-3 and 48-0 the last two weeks. The Tigers have dropped 17 consecutive games to NCAA schools.

The administration fired legendary coach and former Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams in September, and the players did not approve of interim coach George Ragsdale. Defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston is the new interim coach, though it's unclear what will come next in this sad saga.

Williams' firing concluded a tenuous relationship between the coach and the school, which included some contentious politics in recent seasons. Williams arranged for outside funds to purchase a badly-needed new floor for the team's weight room, according to an extensive Sports Illustrated report, but did not channel the money and the purchase through athletic department officials, apparently resulting in his firing.

SI also cited "a lack of food on the road and a general decline in the university's support of the program" as major gripes from the players.

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