The Grambling State University football team has pledged to end their boycott and finish the 2013 season. The team finally began that process by returning to practice Monday evening.
Naquan Smith, a senior safety who has served as the team's spokesman during the boycott, released a statement ton confirm the team's plan to play football, referencing a recent conversation with "the one person we trusted, " fired coach Doug Williams.
As part of the athletic program at Grambling State University, the football team, took a stance on what we thought was right. We did not quit on our university. There are many problems that exist and if no one says anything, nothing will come of our institution. We hope Coach Eddie Robinson and his legendary players can appreciate that we stood up for what we thought was right. After coming into contact with different sources, we decided to reach out to the one person we trusted, Coach Doug Williams, with our concerns. His main statement to us was, "Go out there and play football." He also put us in contact with Jim Bernhard out of Baton Rouge. A meeting was held with Mr. Bernhard as well as, Douglas Porter, Ezil Bibbs, Roy Jackson, Henry Dyer and Howard Davis. The meeting confirmed him [Jim Bernhard] as being committed with our best intentions at heart and that he would ensure we had updated facilities, but we had to agree to being back practicing Monday, October 21 and finish the remainder of our season. Although we are going to continue our season, we have not forgotten the situation and how we've gotten here. We would like to say thank you to Coach Williams, the Legends and Mr. Jim Bernhard. Grambling has given us the opportunity to be a part of its legacy and we are only looking to improve conditions for the university and future student-athletes.
The Tigers refused to practice last week after a walk-out on then-interim coach George Ragsdale, then decided not to travel to Saturday's game at Jackson State. Grambling forfeited the game as a result.
The issues are Grambling run far deeper than just the football program, with buildings around campus reportedly suffering some of the same neglect as the football facilities. The team, meanwhile, will be led by defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston for the rest of the season. Winston, a former NFL linebacker, was one of the coaches named as a preferred coach during the boycott.