An impromptu meeting between HBCU football coaches turned into a call to action.
Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders documented a recent visit to Mississippi Valley State to spend time with Delta Devils head coach Vincent Dancy and the football staff in a video documented by Thee Pregame Show.
During the trip, Sanders toured all the facilities, including the visiting locker room at Rice-Totten Stadium.
The JSU coach then asked to see where Mississippi Valley State held practice and was surprised that the field was nearly a mile from the main campus and wasn’t in the best of conditions
“This is the practice field?” Sanders asked. “We have to do something about that.”
Following the trip, Sanders proclaimed that “it was time for me to go to work” on assisting the football team to orchestrate upgrades.
“We got to build them a game field,” said Sanders, who encouraged those watching the video to chip in financially for the effort. “It’s not going to be turf, it’s going to be a grass field. But I need for you to help me maintain it — keep it beautiful and green.”
The lack of modern football amenities compared to other schools within the SWAC and at the FCS level has been well-documented over the years.
The school’s athletic department announced last July that it was partnering with the MVSU V-Club to launch a “Touchdown for Turf” campaign, a grassroots effort to raise $2 million for facility enhancements at Rice-Totten Stadium.
The football program currently has the smallest budget in the conference, which has historically made it difficult for the team to consistently compete at a high level despite a recent resurgence last season.
“We’re always talking, we always have those things on the table in order for us to take another step forward,” Dancy said last fall in response to a question about what steps the school was taking to enhance the program. “That was one of the reasons why I stayed committed here. We got some things we’re working on in the future to help Mississippi Valley State.”
Dancy signed a contract extension at the end of the 2021 fall season that will keep him at Mississippi Valley State through 2023.
“Just give me everything that I need to win,” Dancy said during the briefing with reporters amid the spring 2021 season. “If I had what I needed who’s to say I’d win because you still have to play the game. I think you will see a better program, obviously, but more wins will come along with it when you really invested in something you want to see grow.”
At the time, the program only had 40 scholarship athletes on its roster — well below the 63 FCS threshold.
“It’s the small things. Everyone knows we’re limited funded,” Dancy said then. “We know we don’t have the scholarship limit that everybody else has, and of course, that could be a deciding factor in a lot of areas when it comes to winning games. I feel that this program is headed in the right direction. If we want to really turn that curve, you really have to invest in something that you believe in.