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Report: JSU, SWAC Being Sued for Wanting Out of Southern Heritage Classic

Jackson State University and the SWAC are being sued by the organizers of the Southern Heritage Classic, according to documents obtained by Action 5 News. This comes after comments from head coach Deion Sanders, and legal action by the school indicating that JSU will no longer take part in the event. JSU is in agreement to take part in the game until 2024. 

In the lawsuit filed in Memphis on Monday, Summit Management Corporation, the organizers of the event, named Sanders, the school, the conference and the “State Institutions of Higher Learning as the constitutional governing body of the Mississippi state institutions of higher learning, which includes defendant JSU” in the suit.

The Southern Heritage Classic is an annual game between JSU and Tennessee State, but after his team’s win in September, Sanders criticized the event because of the lack or revenue the school gets. 

“It’s a hustle,” Sanders said on the Pardon My Take podcast, when asked about the event, though Sanders did not specifically name the Classic. “We’re losing money, tremendously. This particular classic that you’re talking about, first of all, why would two colleges need a promoter? You’re two colleges and you have ADs, why would you need a promoter, that’s No. 1.

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“Secondly, I think the fee was like over 30 years, $6 million,” Sanders continued. “That’s peanuts. So by the time you take seven buses for the band, four buses for the players, couple (buses) for people, assistants, hotel accommodations, food, you’re out of that. That $180-200 grand, you’re out of that. So you didn’t make nothing. You really came up there 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.”

In February 2021, JSU officially gave notice to SMC that it will no longer take part in the event citing a scheduling conflict due to the the SWAC’s commitments to another event.

“JSU’s governing athletic conference (SWAC) has entered into an agreement in which JSU’s (sic) will participate in events that conflict with the Southern Heritage Classic,” the letter read obtained by FootballScoop read. “Therefore, this correspondence shall serve as notice of JSU’s termination of its participation in the Southern Heritage Classic and the Agreement between the parties.”

However on Monday, the school said “confidential legal correspondence between Jackson State University and was leaked, which did not reflect the ongoing communication between the parties,” per FootballScoop. 

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