Smith said he had no comment when asked if there had been any pushback from university officials because of the boycott. No athletic administration officials were present at the players’ press conference.
It’s been a tough season for Grambling (0-8), which is on its third coach this season and has lost 18 straight football games to NCAA opponents. Williams was fired after just two games this season and replaced by George Ragsdale, who was reassigned within the athletic department on Thursday and replaced by Dennis “Dirt” Winston.
The players have been not participated in practices or games since Tuesday, when they walked out of contentious meeting with school administration.
Emmett Gill, the national director for the Student Athlete Human Rights Project, said he was on campus to help ensure that players do not face retaliation from school administration for their protest.
Grambling’s administration has confirmed one of the players’ concerns was about travel. The team recently took buses to games in Kansas City and Indianapolis.
University spokesman Will Sutton said Grambling has endured a 57 percent cut in state funding over several years that has affected the entire campus.
The athletic department was asked to cut $335,000 this year from its overall department budget of $6.8 million. Sutton said football was cut by $75,000 to about $2 million.
ESPN reported Saturday that it had obtained a letter detailing player complaints, which included mold in the locker room and improperly cleaned uniforms contributing to an increased likelihood of staph infections.
Sutton said that local health department inspectors, acting on an anonymous tip, recently visited Grambling athletic facilities and recommended changes to improve conditions, but did not deem those facilities a health hazard.