Rival school's hometown offers Jackson football team help over water woes

·2 min read
NCAA Football: Celebration Bowl-Jackson State at South Carolina State

By Eric Cox and Rich McKay

JACKSON, Miss. (Reuters) - After Mississippi's capital lost running water this week due to a treatment plant failure, Jackson State University football coach Deion Sanders shared a video on Instagram saying he was in "crisis mode" to keep his team practicing.

"We don't have air conditioning, we can't use toilets, we don't have water, therefore we don't have ice, which pretty much places a burden on the program," said Sanders, a perennial All-Pro during his 14-year National Football League career.

In Greenville, Mississippi, about 120 miles north of Jackson -- home to rival Mississippi Valley State University -- Mayor Errick D. Simmons watched the video, and hours later was offering to feed and house the team in his city's hotels.

"Our city is blessed not to be in that crisis, so we wanted to help, because I say a friend in need is a friend indeed," Greenville Mayor Simmons said by phone on Wednesday.

The JSU Tigers and Mississippi Valley State University, both historically Black schools, are due to play each other on Sept. 24.

Simmons, who graduated from JSU and whose son is currently a wide receiver on the Tigers, said he wasn't sure if Sanders - known as "Prime Time" - would take him up on the offer. The JSU Tigers head to Miami on Thursday for a game against Florida A&M University this weekend.

Simmons said his offer would stand after JSU returned from Florida if the water crisis had not been resolved.

"The problem might be all solved by then, but I want them to know that our door is wide open if they need us," he said.

The JSU Athletics Department did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday on whether they would accept Simmons' offer.

In a video posted on Wednesday morning, Sanders expressed "special love, thanks, and appreciation to everyone that flooded us with messages, that desired to give donations" after watching his video. He did not mention Simmons' offer.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba told CNN he expected water to start flowing again by the end of the week. The city on Wednesday was grappling with its second day without running water after the poorly maintained O.B. Curtis plant broke down after a weekend of heavy rain and flooding.

(Reporting by Eric Cox in Jackson and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Writing by Julia Harte; Editing by Frank McGurty and Deepa Babington)