Jackson State suing Grambling State over boycotted football game

The firing of Grambling head coach Doug Williams set off a firestorm with the program's players. - Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

The canceled Homecoming game at Jackson State has JSU administrators — and their accountants — seeing red.

The Grambling State story kicked into overdrive on Saturday as the team forfeited a road game against Jackson State amidst program-wide complaints about poor conditions and solidarity with fired head coach Doug Williams. The players have since returned to practice this week, but not before the Jackson State game was consigned to the scrap heap.

The JSU administration was, as you might expect, not thrilled with the development, especially since the Grambling game was set for Homecoming week. As such, it released a statement expressing disappointment with the game's cancellation — and announcing plans to sue Grambling for the financial losses it incurred:

Still, 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.

We have a fiduciary responsibility to Mississippi taxpayers and the JSU community to mitigate our ongoing and substantial losses. Jackson State plans to pursue litigation against Grambling State and others.

Grambling's issues are well documented and long standing. Those issues, however, are not JSU's issues nor are these JSU's responsibility.

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. We have dealt in good faith with Grambling and the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The actions of both have hurt JSU.

The statement goes on to estimate the losses of the university and Jackson, MS to be in the millions of dollars, so strictly financially speaking the school owes it to itself and its city to at least see what its legal options are.

That being said, Grambling State is the school that has its football players riding a bus from New Orleans to Indianapolis and using moldy, decrepit facilities. Exactly where does JSU think this compensatory money would even come from? It's like suing a boulder for a gallon of orange juice. Like, okay, we would all like juice, but that doesn't mean that stone's got it. And as JSU notes in its statement, it too knows the squeeze of financial hardship all too well. So what does it expect from Grambling?

If the SWAC really stonewalled JSU, though, there might be something to that aspect of its complaint. The conference has got to provide answers as soon as possible; anything less is an abdication of leadership.

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