Grambling’s Game Cancellation Could Put Bayou Classic In Jeopardy

Grambling’s Game Cancellation Could Put Bayou Classic In Jeopardy

Could one cancellation lead to any another?
NEW ORLEANS (WDSU) -- Could one cancellation lead to any another?

According to a report by New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU, that's the question many Bayou Classic fans are asking with the Grambling Tigers refusing to play on the road Saturday in Jackson. Many are wondering if the Bayou Classic could be in jeopardy.

"They want us to perform to the best of our ability, but with poor facilities and poor stuff," said Naquan Smith of the Grambling football team.

The Bayou Classic is the heated rivalry between the Grambling State Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars in the Superdome.

It’s a match-up dating back 40 years.

But now with Grambling football players on strike, forfeiting Jackson State University's homecoming, some Bayou Classic fans are worried that the granddaddy of classics will soon be treated like a stepchild.

Players united against poor facilities, travel accommodations and the firing of former head coach Doug Williams.

"It's like, for us, he was a father to us," said Smith. "Most of the team are freshmen and sophomores, and most of the reasons for coming to Grambling were to play for Coach Williams.”

Dottie Belletto, president of New Orleans Convention Company, the management company for the Bayou Classic, says the event generates $30 million for the local economy. 

"There's a lot of money that's raised through Bayou Classic that goes back to these schools for scholarships for these young people. That's the mission," said Belletto.

"Bayou Classic is important, but it's not more important than I guess the terms of you being a student athlete. That's supposed to come first and not just a single game, I guess," said Michael Riley of the Headquarters Barber and Beauty Salon.

At Headquarters Barber and Beauty Salon in the 1100 block of North Broad. Bayou Classic fans keep a close eye on the play-by-play action between the Grambling players and the school president.

"I don't know all the ins and outs to the situation, but I commend anybody who comes together and stands together as a team and be unified for what they believe in," said owner Jamal McCoy.

There are high stakes and high hopes that the Bayou Classic won't be cancelled for the first time in history.

The Bayou Classic is scheduled for Nov. 30 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Sources tell WDSU pre-ticket sales have already doubled.

ESPN's Pedro Gomez obtained a letter sent to the Grambling administration from its players. Click here to view the letter.


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