For decades, the success and notoriety of Jackson State football has been encompassing within the university and the confines of the city.
Its impact reached a fever pitch over the last two seasons with the addition of Deion Sanders who galvanized JSU fans and HBCU stakeholders alike on the strength of bravado, flamboyance, and lots of winning, too.
No other coach on campus understands this history — past and present — more than current men’s basketball coach Mo Williams.
His Tigers have a big game on Wednesday night against Mississippi State that will be played in Jackson. Though the contest will take place at the neutral site Mississippi Coliseum not too far from the JSU campus, Williams wants that same outpouring of support and vigor for the football team to be transferred to the hoops squad.
“I’m asking our fans to show up. I’m asking our fans to fill that building up,” Williams, a Jackson native, told the media this week. “I’ve been going to Jackson State football games since I was six years old and I can remember that Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium is sold out every single Saturday I’m in there. Every single Saturday.
“If I’m not mistaken, there are 50,000-60,000 seats in that thing. And we’re talking about a basketball facility (Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center) that holds 7,000 to 8,000 to 10,000,” said Williams. “All I’m asking is for 5 to 6 to 8,000 of that 60,000 that supports our football team every single Saturday to show up.”
While Jackson State (1-8) has yet to play a true home game in the regular season, its attendance for home men’s basketball games has lagged significantly behind the NCAA DI average. During the 2021-22 season, Jackson State drew 1,441 per game, according to NCAA attendance figures. The SWAC as a whole averaged 1,518 fans out of 130 home dates, which ranked No. 24 out of the 32 Division I leagues.
On the other hand, JSU football led the FCS in home game attendance at 42,049 per home in 2022.
“We need the support. We need to be louder than the Mississippi State fans, said Williams. I’m asking — I’m almost telling — that we need that coliseum filled up.”