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Jackson State University, Summitt Management Corp, Southern Heritage Classic, Football, Lawsuit

In 2022, Jackson State University paid $800,000 to resolve a lawsuit brought by Summitt Management Corporation, according to court documents obtained by the Clarion Ledger. The whopping suit came after the university attempted to withdraw from the final two years of its contract for the Southern Heritage Classic, an annual HBCU football game between the JSU Tigers and Tennessee State. The event, which is held at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, is organized by Summitt Management Corporation. 

What happened?

According to the lawsuit, Jackson State and Summitt Management Corporation agreed to a five-year deal around September 10, 2019, for participation in the Southern Heritage Classic. The Tigers were set to play throughout the 5 year contract. However, in February 2022, Jackson State announced that the team would no longer participate in the annual game in 2023 and 2024.

At the time of the announcement, then-coach, Deion Sanders, alleged that Jackson State’s decision to withdraw from the Southern Heritage Classic was due to financial reasons. 

“Seven buses for the band. We have four buses with all our people,” penned on Instagram, according to the Clarion Ledger. “And who else goes? Administration. Hotel accommodations. Food, all that. … By the time we get back, we’re broke.”

On March 14, 2022, Summitt Management Corporation, headed by Fred Jones, filed a lawsuit against Jackson State and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), alleging breach of contract. The lawsuit claimed that the SWAC was involved because it allegedly engaged in “wrongful interference with contractual relations” by seeking Jackson State’s involvement in a new football showcase event, the SWAC ClassicThe lawsuit was settled around Oct. 31, 2022.

For 35 years, the Southern Heritage Classic, held at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, has been a prominent early-season rivalry fixture. Often boasting one of the highest attendance figures among HBCU classic football games, it has cemented its status as a signature event.

In 2022, during Jackson State and Summitt Management Corporation’s litigation period, Sanders voiced his frustrations about the Southern Heritage Classic during an interview with ABC 24. The former football star said he hoped that Jackson State and Summitt Management Corporation could conduct “better business” together in the future. 

“We’ve got to do better business. That’s what I’m talking about. So whether we do it in Jackson or Tennessee, I’m good. If we do the business right, I’m good,” Sanders said. “I’m for the business of making sure these kids are straight—not coming down and needing some gas money on the way back.”


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The post Jackson State Paid $800K To End Decades-Long HBCU Football Tradition, Documents Show appeared first on NewsOne.

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