For Alcorn State’s football program, traditionally one of the best among the Historically Black Colleges and Universities that play in the Southwest Athletic Conference, this weekend’s game at South Alabama is a significant financial deal.
As one of the lowest-resourced programs in the Football Championship Subdivision, with an athletics department budget in the $6 million range, a $360,000 paycheck to play one game represents a large chunk of their revenue for the year.
But it is unclear whether the team will make the trip to South Alabama because it has not been able to practice Monday or Tuesday as it failed to have an athletic trainer available to treat players for injuries, head coach Fred McNair said in a radio interview Monday and four people with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
The question now is whether Alcorn State will play an FBS team without a normal week or practice and with what kind of medical supervision.
Alcorn State athletics director Derek Horne did not return a message seeking comment.
The four people spoke with USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.
One of them said the football team’s activities Tuesday were limited to a walkthrough where University-employed nurses — not a certified athletic trainer — were allowed to pass out ice bags.
“This has been an ongoing thing for us,” the person said. “The sad thing is we’ve been winning and you’d think that would be a plus to help us to move forward.”
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Alcorn State is 1-1 to start the season, including a 13-10 victory over Northwestern State on Saturday.
The frustration within the program is also boiling over publicly, with McNair saying Monday night: “This is something that needs to be fixed. This is an administration issue.”
Grambling State’s 2013 player boycott over the conditions of their facilities and other issues related to the administration’s funding of the program, causing the school to forfeit a game against Jackson State.
While most of the FCS played the 2020 football season in the spring of 2021, Alcorn State opted out entirely. At the time, it was framed as a decision attributed to COVID-19 concerns.