Sport: Family of NFL legend Walter Payton upset with Jackson State, calls school 'disrespectful' - - PressFrom - US
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Sport Family of NFL legend Walter Payton upset with Jackson State, calls school 'disrespectful'

19:10  16 october  2019
19:10  16 october  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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For the high school football award, see Walter Payton Trophy. The award was named in honor of the late National Football League ( NFL ) legend Walter Payton , who starred at Among the many schools in the division, only nine have claimed more than one award, and only seven have had more

JACKSON, Miss. -- As the 20th anniversary of the death of legendary NFL player Walter Payton approaches, the recreation and wellness center on the campus of Jackson State University, built by the school and named in his honor, is undergoing a massive reconfiguration.

But Eddie Payton, Walter Payton's brother, and other Payton family members are none too happy about it.

Eddie Payton, who said he learned of the changes only after construction began Oct. 1, believes the project is ultimately designed to cater to the football program, with offices for coaches and a lounge for recruits, among other things. 

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Walter Payton College Preparatory High School (commonly known as Payton College Prep, W.P.C.P, or simply Payton ) is a public 4-year selective enrollment magnet high school located in the Old Town

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The university said the move is designed to make better use of an area it calls "underutilized" in the nearly 100,000-square-foot center. The $1.49 million project, scheduled to be completed in August, is being paid for with federal Title III money, the university said.

a statue of a man: Former NFL player and Jackson State University golf coach Eddie Payton, in front of the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center in Jackson, Miss., waves to alumni during the start of homecoming weekend on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Payton is the older brother of the late NFL Hall of Fame inductee Walter Payton, who also played football at JSU. © Sarah Warnock/Clarion Ledger Former NFL player and Jackson State University golf coach Eddie Payton, in front of the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center in Jackson, Miss., waves to alumni during the start of homecoming weekend on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Payton is the older brother of the late NFL Hall of Fame inductee Walter Payton, who also played football at JSU. What changes are being made at the Walter Payton Center?

According to the university, the revamped area will include:

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Walter Payton , affectionately known as "Sweetness," is considered one of the most prolific running backs in the history of American football . Raised in Columbia, Miss., Payton starred at Jackson State University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

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  • Weight room
  • Locker rooms
  • Offices
  • Meeting spaces
  • Computer lab
  • Reception area
  • Assembly/student lounge.

In order to accommodate those features, racquetball courts and other undesignated rooms are being removed.

JSU spokeswoman Maxine Greenleaf said there are no plans "for a lounge for football recruits." She said the use of the space in the center, which opened in 2006, has yet to be designated, though she didn't rule out that offices in the center could be for football coaches.

While that might seem like a natural fit in a center named for one of football's greatest players ever, Payton said it would be disrespectful to his brother, who played college ball at the historically black university, and the spirit for which the center was intended — a place for students and the public to work out. 

"We don't like it, we think it's one of the most overt signs of disrespect we have ever seen," said Payton, also a former NFL player, JSU alumnus and the school's former golf coach.

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Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said she is concerned about declining black As for the declining black population at Payton , Jackson blamed the end of racial quotas and the opening of The legendary Bears coach will be honored by the NFL as one of the 100 greatest football players of

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The $12.3 million Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center, located at 34 Walter Payton Drive, is a part of the JSU Recreation Complex. A granite monument with a picture of the Hall of Famer, paid for by the Payton family, stands outside the facility. A bust of Payton is on display inside.

Payton, who earned the nickname "Sweetness," played 13 years in the NFL, from 1975 to 1987, with the Chicago Bears. He died Nov. 1, 1999, at age 45, after a battle with bile duct cancer. The annual Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award is named in his honor.

Walter Payton Center use 'will not be compromised

Payton said athletes could come to the center but it wasn't designed for athletic teams such as football and basketball.

"It's not an athletic facility; what you are doing is bullying the students by taking away from them something that was theirs since it was built," Payton said. "You can't put regular students in a weight room with athletes. It's not going to work."

The university, in an emailed response, rejected that characterization. The current use of the facility by students and the public, it said, would "not be compromised."

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Walter Payton , the Chicago Bears' first-round choice and the fourth player selected in the 1975 National Football League Draft, developed into a superstar of unusual dimensions during his 13-season NFL tenure from 1975 to 1987, all of which he spent with the Chicago Bears.

All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide. Congratulations to Kyle Rudolph on winning the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Charity Challenge presented by Nationwide!

"These enhancements are accessible and designed to benefit all JSU students," the university said, adding it would "never exclude a specific group of students, including student-athletes, from utilizing our campus spaces."

The project is being carried out under the administration of JSU President William Bynum. Bynum took the helm of the university, which enrolls some 7,250 students, in 2017.

The utilization of campus buildings is always being examined, the university said, adding that the administration led the decision on this project, as is "the normal process for renovations and new construction." As such, no one from the Payton family, it said, was consulted.

Payton said if the school wants a facility for football, it should build one. He said he has discussed with some JSU officials the idea of an indoor training and practice facility for the football team for under $20 million. He also said he would help with the fundraising effort, but the idea has yet to gain traction.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Family of NFL legend Walter Payton upset with Jackson State, calls school 'disrespectful'

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