Game off: Buses leave Grambling without players - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Game off: Buses leave Grambling without players, game vs Jackson canceled

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GSU football players never showed up to board the buses to Jackson for Saturday's Homecoming game at Jackson State. (Source: KNOE) GSU football players never showed up to board the buses to Jackson for Saturday's Homecoming game at Jackson State. (Source: KNOE)
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GRAMBLING, LA (KSLA/KNOE) -

Two empty buses pulled out of the Grambling State University campus just before 4 p.m. Thursday, after the university's football players refused to show up and head to Jackson, Mississippi for Jackson State's homecoming game on Saturday.

Late Thursday afternoon, Jackson State officially announced the game had been canceled and announced a news conference would be held at 5:30 p.m.

The buses were originally scheduled to leave at 2:30 p.m. When none of the players showed up, university administrators pushed the departure time back an hour to 3:30 p.m. in an apparent last-ditch effort to get the players on board.

A Grambling football player told KNOE's Aaron Dietrich Friday morning that all of the players had agreed not to board the buses and show up for the game. Instead, they were planning on returning to their dorms or homes for the weekend.

In a news conference earlier Friday, GSU President Frank Pogue said the team would be on the bus as scheduled and the game would be played.

Officials also said that they hadn't made any decisions about repercussions if players failed to show up for the game. Dean of Students David Ponton described his part in a meeting held Friday morning with the players. "My role as Dean of Students was to make sure that they understand what their obligations are to the university, and also what the obligations to the students - the university's obligations to the students."

These latest developments come after players failed to show up for practice on Wednesday, after a meeting Tuesday night that reportedly ended with them walking out. They were no-shows again for regular practice on Thursday, but did attend a "closed practice" later in the afternoon, following an announcement that interim head coach George Ragsdale had been replaced by defensive coach Dennis "Dirt" Winston.

GSU spokesperson confirmed Thursday that some of the player's complaints included long bus rides to recent games in Kansas City and Indianapolis, the weight room needing a new floor, meals and their desire to have their old head coach Doug Williams reinstated.

The Hall of Fame head coach was fired mid-season.

Pogue reiterated Friday morning that the university is aware of the student's concerns, but made it clear to them that Williams will not be coming back. "Some things don't work, regardless of the effort. Some things don't work, and what I'm saying to you right now is that what happened between Doug and the university is a personnel issue. Our goal was to respond to those issues as best we could, as a way of ensuring our students that we support them. But it was not to say that students were in control of the university. We heard the students. We listened the students. We wanted to respond to their needs as an indication of support."

Grambling spokesman Will Sutton said Friday there will be "no forfeit" in a text to The Associated Press. He says school officials are meeting to decide the next step.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Duer Sharp called the situation "very disappointing."

Copyright 2013 KSLA/KNOE. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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