In a weekend full of upsets and big games, perhaps no score stands out more from Saturday's college football slate than Grambling State's 1-0 loss. Grambling State officially forfeited, a majority of its players refusing to travel to Jackson State.
Grambling's players are upset with the school's travel policies, outdated and unsafe practice facilities, a tumultuous coaching situation, and what they say is a lack of support from the school's administration. (See the complete list of complaints the Grambling players sent to school administrators: PDF)
The players have reasons to support each argument. Travel policies? The team had to take a bus 750 miles to a neutral-site game in Indianapolis. Their opponent, Alcorn State, took a plane to the game.
"It does something to your body, being on the bus that long," one player told Sports Illustrated.
The players were on the bus for 15 hours.
Unsafe practice facilities? According to SI, a worn out and uneven floor in the weight room is just one problem. Then "there is rust around some windows and insulation droops down from where ceiling panels are absent."
Tumultuous coaching situation? The 0-8 Tigers are on their third head coach this season. Players were unhappy when Doug Williams, who led Grambling State to a SWAC championship as recently as 2011 was fired in September.
But, the issues at Grambling State run deeper. From SI:Grambling is not, say, LSU, a football factory that generates millions of dollars in profit while the athletes go unpaid. In recent years, Grambling's football program has run a deficit of between $1.2 and $1.8 million. That doesn't mean Grambling couldn't or shouldn't do more for its athletes, just that the image of school officials counting their millions while players bus 754 miles to a game is inaccurate.
A Timeline of the Debacle at Grambling State:
August 31 - Grambling State opens season with 23-9 loss to Alabama A&M
September 11 - Head coach Doug Williams fired
October 10 - Team travels 750 miles to Indianapolis by bus for neutral-site game against Alcorn State
October 12 - Alcorn State defeats Grambling State 48-0
October 15 - Players walk out of meeting with school president and athletic director
October 16 - Players begin boycotting practice
October 17 - Interim head coach George Ragsdale fired, replaced by defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston
October 19 - Grambling State forfeits game against Jackson State
So what's next for the struggling program? According to the AP:
The Southwestern Athletic Conference has announced that it is working with Grambling officials to "ensure that the appropriate actions are made" to resolve the continuing standoff between the school's football players and administration.
The SWAC said Sunday night in a release that Grambling had not been fined for forfeiting its scheduled game Saturday at Jackson State.
Subsequent reports had stated Grambling would be fined $20,000 for forfeiting the Jackson State game. As JSU's homecoming, the game was expected to draw a large crowd.
The football team will move forward with Winston now at the helm of the program. Grambling athletic director Aaron James says Winston has the ability to "tone things down and get the program up and running smoothly."
Grambling has scheduled a football practice scheduled today but it is still unclear if anyone will show up.
UPDATE: It appears as if the boycott of practice is over.
Grambling football team ends boycott, will return to practice today. Naquan Smith said players felt they to take a stance.- Matt Vines (@MattRVines) October 21, 2013