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Grambling State, JSU officials negotiating over canceled game - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Grambling State, JSU officials negotiating over canceled homecoming game

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Grambling State and Jackson State officials are negotiating to avoid legal action following the canceled homecoming game. Grambling State and Jackson State officials are negotiating to avoid legal action following the canceled homecoming game.
GRAMBLING, La. -

"We're just taking a stand right now, but it's been long overdue and we just want our voices heard," that was the cry over the loudspeaker at a student rally on Grambling State University's campus mid-October.

That was just days before GSU's football team made more than just a public statement.

They refused to board buses to travel to Mississippi for Jackson State University's homecoming game October 19th, saying they would no longer keep quiet about the conditions of their equipment and athletic facilities.

"None of this would have happened if the leadership and the authority and the administration was doing what's right," said one player at the rally.

Jackson State expected at least 20,000 visitors, and was forced to refund some $200,000 in tickets after the game was ruled a forfeit.

But JSU has said its monetary losses could climb into the millions.

For its part, Grambling is making no secret about its financial struggle, which it claims is at the root of all the recent trouble, pointing to buildings across campus in need of repair.

"What we have tried to do is take full advantage of the national attention that we have received," said GSU President Frank Pogue during a recent phone-a-thon fundraiser.

There's no denying higher ed in Louisiana has taken its fair share of financial blows, with Grambling citing a 57 percent cut to its budget over the last five years.

The historically black university's list of deferred maintenance needs have ballooned into almost $45 million dollars. 

But money woes or not, there's still the game that never made it to the gridiron.

And if current negotiations fail, and Jackson State hits Grambling with a lawsuit claiming millions in losses, could JSU actually prove Grambling is responsible?

"I think it would be questionable whether the university would actually be liable for damages. I don't know that there's a cause of action against the university."

Louisiana State Senator, and local attorney, Rick Gallot represents the Grambling area.

It's a unique situation, and he says the school did its part to avoid a forfeit, and get the players on the road to Mississippi.

"The buses came but, you know, because of the protest, or boycott, the student athletes didn't board the buses to go."

Gallot says Jackson State would have to serve Grambling through the state of Louisiana's Attorney's General's office, something he describes as a very long and drawn-out process.

He says the burden of proof in this case would be steep, but if a judgement for a settlement in JSU's favor were actually reached, the state legislature would have to appropriate the money, taxpayer money, to be exact.

But it would be years before jackson state would see the first cent from a settlement... Forced to take its 'hypothetical' place in line behind hundreds of already backlogged judgments against the state of Louisiana.

"We're all having a tough time budget-wise, so that in and of itself, is something that we all, sort of, share."

In a message on the Blue Bengal's website, Jackson State says their 'family was damaged' by the 'unprecedented event'.

It goes on to say that Grambling State University repeatedly assured them its team would travel to Jackson.

In hindsight, Gallot describes the situation as unfortunate for all involved, but says it would be in JSU's best interest if both parties could reach an agreement.

"With both schools being members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, both being HBCUs, it certainly would be a good thing if we could work it out."

Gallot says he's been in contact with the senator who represents the Jackson area, and that they'll continue to keep the lines of communication open.

He also says, as far as a breach of contract goes, the Southwestern Athletic Conference should already have provisions in its contracts for team no-shows.

Attempts to reach the SWAC for comment were unsuccessful.

We also reached out to the University of Louisiana System's attorney for comment but didn't hear back.

Here's a look at how Grambling's funding has fluctuated over the last five years:

For the 2008-2009 school year, the General Fund Direct was about $30.5 million.

For this school year, that number has decreased to just under $7.5 million.

However, their Self-generated Funds have increased by about $10 million since the 08-09 school year.

Their total budget for the 2013-2014 year is a little over $49 million, including their Statutatory Dedicated Funds.

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