‘We Gotta Stop That Foolishness’: Deion Sanders and Jackson State Want Out of Southern Heritage Classic, But a New Lawsuit May Thwart This

Head coach Deion Sanders and the Jackson State Tigers are back in the news. But this time it isn’t of the good variety, after announcing they were bowing out of the Southern Heritage Classic in February, effectively breaching the remaining three years on their contract with Tennessee State.

Less than two weeks after receiving blowback from the event organizers and Fred Jones, founder of the classic, Jackson State announced it had reached an agreement with the event organizers to play the game in 2022, and then be free to go on their merry way.

But now the Tigers and the SWAC are in deep litigation. The Summit Management Corp., which sponsors the game, filed a suit in Shelby County Chancery Court accusing JSU of breach of contract. They’re seeking an injunction to make JSU fulfill the final two years of the original agreement (2023 and 2024). 

This comes on the heels of Sanders calling the game “a hustle” via the “Pardon My Take” podcast.

“It’s a hustle. We’re losing money tremendously,” Sanders insisted. “This particular classic you’re talking about, first of all, why would two colleges need a promoter? Your two colleges have ADs, why would you need a promoter, that’s No.1.?

“Secondly, I think the fee was like over 30 years, $6 million. That’s peanuts. So by the time you take seven buses for four bands, four buses for the players, couple buses for people, assistants, hotel accommodations, food, you’re out of that. That’s $180-200 grand, you’re out of that. So you didn’t make nothing. You really came up on a blank trip. We gotta stop that foolishness. The first thing we need to take care of as HBCUs is the business aspect of everything, and that’s something we’re changing right now. We’re taking care of business.”

Sanders took to Instagram and mentioned the event.

“SMC has paid JSU fees exceeding $6 million over the years, during many years when JSU was struggling financially. Over the years, TSU has won more games than JSU, but JSU has been better in recent years, and stronger financially. In 2021, JSU was nearly undefeated and won the SWAC championship.”

The football teams are responsible for their own travel, meals and lodging. SMC handles the remaining expenses incurred. The $350,000 payout isn’t adequate in the opinion of Sanders and JSU. 

Sanders Adamant About Doing What’s Best For JSU:

Since he became JSU head coach, Sanders has been adamant that he’s going to do whatever is in the best interest of Jackson State University. That means playing games that are meaningful not just from a pageantry and aura standpoint, but also participating in games that provide the revenue needed to keep the program on an upward trajectory and in good standing when it comes to recruiting.

To find out more about SMC’s lawsuit against Deion Sanders and Jackson State for breaking their contract to playing in the Southern Heritage Classic beyond 2022, click here.

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