The Grambling State University football players issued a statement Monday that said they will return to practice and resume playing but that they had no regrets about boycotting practices last week and refusing to travel for Saturday's game at Jackson State.
The statement, a copy of which was emailed to USA TODAY Sports and signed by safety Naquan Smith, said "although we are going to continue our season, we have not forgotten the situation and how we've gotten here."
PREVIOUSLY: SWAC working with Grambling in player dispute
PREVIOUSLY: Players revolt
The statement said that the players decided to return after consulting former head coach Doug Williams, who was fired Sept. 11. He was replaced by running backs coach George Ragsdale, who was in turn reassigned within the athletics department Thursday amid the player revolt. Defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston was appointed to replace Ragsdale as interim head coach.
The statement said Williams main statement to the players was, "Go out there and play football."
In a text message to USA TODAY Sports on Friday, Williams had said, "I'm proud of them boys. They took a stance."
Grambling forfeited Saturday's Southwestern Athletic Conference game, which was to be Jackson State's homecoming, after the players didn't show up Friday afternoon to board buses to take them to Jackson, Miss. The players also had boycotted practices Wednesday and Thursday.
The SWAC has said the school will be fined under league bylaws because of the forfeit.
GRAMBLING: School reacts to player complaints
Practice is scheduled for Monday and the Tigers, who are 0-8 this season including the forfeit and have lost 18 in a row to NCAA programs, are scheduled to host Texas Southern for a game this Saturday.
Speaking Monday on the SWAC coaches teleconference, Winston said no players had left the team during the upheaval. "Everyone will be here today," he said in reference to practice.
The players' complaints included: the firing of Williams just two games into the season, the deterioiating condition of athletics facilities and equipment, and having to travel by bus to games this season in Kansas City, Mo., and Indianapolis.
The players' statement in full:
To Whom It May Concern:
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.
Contributing: George Schroeder