Grambling boycott ends, players plan to finish out season

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The Grambling football team has ended its boycott and players will return to practice Monday afternoon, the Shreveport (La.) Times reported Monday morning.

Senior safety Naquan Smith told the Times the players felt they had to take a stance by boycotting this past Saturday's game with Southwestern Athletic Conference rival Jackson State. The next game is this Saturday against SWAC rival Texas Southern.

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The SWAC said Sunday night in a release that Grambling had not been fined for forfeiting the game, reversing field after announcing Friday the school would be fined at least $20,000.

In a statement, Smith said the team will finish the season but that numerous problems exist with the program.

"We did not quit on our university," the statement read in part. "There are many problems that exist, and if no one says anything, nothing will come of our institution. ... [W]e stood up for what we thought was right."

The Times reported that Smith said the team reached out to former Grambling coach Doug Williams, who was fired Sept. 11, and his message was, "Go out there and play football."

Smith also said a meeting was held with a Grambling booster group and that the boosters would "ensure we had updated facilities" if the players returned to practice.

Grambling went 8-4 under Williams, an alum, in 2011 and won the SWAC title. But the Tigers slipped to 1-10 last season and were 0-7 on the field this season before forfeiting the game to Jackson State. The athletic department faces extreme economic difficulties, and players complained of unsafe conditions, including unclean showers that led to numerous staph infections; long bus rides to road games, including a trip to Indianapolis; poor athletic department management; and Williams' firing.

Interim coach George Ragsdale was relieved of his duties last week, and defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston -- a former NFL linebacker -- is the new interim coach.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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