Grambling Forfeits Game At Jackson State Due To Internal Strife
This will be the scene today at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson MS, as Grambling players decided not to board the bus on Friday to play the scheduled game against Jackson State. The Grambling football program has undergone much turmoil with the firing of their head coach Doug Williams on September 11th.
Players were reportedly unhappy with their treatement during practices under interim head coach George Ragsdale, and after two consecutive Thursdays of boycotting practices, the Grambling Athletic Department reassigned Ragsdale to another department. In a statement from players reported by the USA TODAY:
"As a team, we feel like we wanted (Ragsdale) to actually step down," Smith said. "(The team) is behind us because they know what we've been going through. They know the struggle. We said we're behind each other 100%."
Grambling's record this year is a dismal 0-7, and nearly as dismal are the reported conditions the players are having to endure, including the alleged rundown state of the athletics facilities, including mold and mildew on equipment. Players also said they were forced to pay for Gatorade out of their own pockets and contracted staph infections because of poorly cleaned uniforma. and the mode of travel required to attend games, sometimes riding a bus 1,500 miles in order to play in Indianapolis.
The story, first reported on espn.com, says a group of 26 photos provided by players, seem to substantiate their claims.
Grambling spokesman Will Sutton announced that replacing Ragsdale would be defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt"Winston, of whom Grambling athletic director Aaron James said 'can't think of a better choice' to lead the Tigers. Winston played for the New Orleans Saints during his professional career.
Grambling was 1-10 under WIlliams a year ago, a far cry from the days under legendary coach Eddie Robinson, who won 408 games in 56 seasons as head coach. Robinson died in 2007.
Players, however, are still unhappy with president Frank Pogue and are calling for him to resign as well
"We felt there is a lack of leadership with the administration. We had a personal issue with (Ragsdale) and demanded for him to go. We want (Pogue) to go."