|« Two Delta Devil Players to be Honored||JSU's Comegy Fires Offensive Coordinator »|
Bayou Classic oasis for schools
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Bayou Classic - always so much more than a football game with its job fair, battle of the bands and fan festival - brings joy not only to the fans but to the city.
There are the thousands of people filling the city’s hotels and restaurants and the reunions and parties that fill many neighborhoods.
And never has the almost weeklong round of festivities come at a better time for the alums of Grambling State and Southern University.
The football teams square off Nov. 28 in the Superdome, giving the hard-pressed students, faculty and alumni a welcome chance to cheer for their schools - rather than fume about them.
These are tough times at both schools with the budget cuts that the state is imposing the least of their problems.
And the troubles start in the president’s office at both Southern and Grambling.
Former Southern President Ralph Slaughter is suing the school’s governing board trying to get his job back.
The board did not renew Slaughter’s contract, saying it just wanted to go in a different direction. Slaughter’s lawyer countered that the board retaliated against Slaughter for filing an earlier whistle-blower lawsuit against them.
Slaughter was named president in March 2006, and later that year he sought an investigation into sexual harassment allegations by female Southern employees against then-board member Johnny Anderson. When the board sided with and cleared Anderson, Slaughter said the board tried to fire him, rompting him to file his whistle-blower suit.
Slaughter is also asking for damages.
An outcropping of Slaughter’s suit is one by former university alumni affairs administrator Joseph Cedric Shelton. In a federal lawsuit, Shelton alleges that he was fired because he testified in 2007 in favor of Slaughter.
Meanwhile, at Grambling, Horace Judson resigned as president suddenly in October, leaving many of the school’s loyal graduates feeling happier than they had in the five years Judson held the post.
Judson was hired in 2004 and his tenure saw new admissions standards, higher ACT scores for incoming freshmen and creation of a new science and technology center. But he also came under fire when students and faculty drafted separate resolutions of no-confidence in his administration and Faculty Senate President Matthew Ware called Judson “universally disliked.” Then there are the sour notes that Southern’s band hit this year.
Hazing new band members got the school more than an investigation that netted seven no contest pleas to criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree battery and misdemeanor hazing. It has also landed a lawsuit as hazing victim Marcus Heath of Georgia and his mother, Marilyn, are suing the college for liability in last year’s off-campus initiation event.
And earlier this month, a dozen Grambling students and a driver were hurt when three buses carrying members of the GSU band were involved in a pileup on a highway in southern Arkansas.
Arkansas authorities said the accident happened when the second of four buses in a convoy slowed and the two buses behind it piled into it and each other.
All in all, fans of both schools can use a little fun and football.
Not that they have been able to derive much joy from even that this year.
Southern (6-3, 3-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) and Grambling (6-4, 4-3) are both out of the running for the SWAC Championship game. But the rivalry between them remains strong and winning the annual Classic title is a coup for either school.
“These have been tough, tumultuous times for the faculty and students, and have divided the alumnae” said former Grambling quarterback and coach Doug Williams. “But the game is always the game. It will block out everything else.”