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Southern QB Ladarius Skelton changes direction as Alcorn DB Juwan Taylor closes in during their game Saturday with Alcorn in Lorman, Mississippi.

Can Southern athletics really do more with less? Athletic director Roman Banks has some ideas about how the Jaguars can turn a combined season into a real spring thing.

Questions about finances are expected. The Jaguars canceled two lucrative nonconference games weeks before Monday, when Southwestern Athletic Conference presidents and chancellors voted to postpone all fall sports until the spring of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

With that decision made, Banks is focused now on solutions, which include marketing a seven-game spring football season that will have six SWAC games, including four division games. A conference football title game also could be a possibility.

Banks lauded the possibility of playing the 47th Bayou Classic vs. Grambling in New Orleans in the spring. Bayou Classic organizers announced Tuesday that the game would not be played in November but also endorsed a spring Bayou Classic in formal statement. 

“Obviously, you don’t have to be an accountant to know that this year there will be a lot of lost revenue,” Banks said. “We know that our fiscal responsibilities will be challenged. But we also wanted to give our student-athletes the very best that we could give them as it relates to getting to play a season.

“First and foremost, this was also about finding ways to keep our athletes, staff and fans safe. With no fall sports, we would like to see basketball start on time. Our hope is to use the opportunities we do have to raise revenue.”

Banks said Southern will begin reaching out to boosters, alumni and the community in a push to boost football season ticket sales for the spring.

“We want to try to ensure the pageantry of our games as they always are, along with showcasing the practices of HBCU fellowships on a football Saturday,” Banks said. “We want people to take in everything else that goes with it.

"We will be making appeals to our fans. Times are hard, but we hope there are people there who say, ‘Hey, we want to do our part to pull the university through this challenge.’ ”

Banks sees a combined spring season as a means to offer more exposure for Southern’s teams and more action for fans. He said the school will look at packaging and promoting multiple games on the same day.

“Hopefully, our fans can come on campus and get a two-for-one,” Banks noted. “You get to see a football game and a basketball game on the same day. Or a football game and a baseball game. We also hope we can have some tailgating and family gatherings safely by the spring. That would just add to the atmosphere.”


Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com