JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ A grand jury refused to indict seven members of the Jackson State basketball team and a former player on charges of sexually assaulting a female student, the Hinds County sheriff's office said.

Sheriff's department spokesman Steve Pickett said his office was notified of the grand jury's decision Wednesday.

All eight had been free on bond pending the grand jury action.

Authorities had charged Damien Smith, 19, and Cedric Gilbert, 22, a former basketball player, with rape and sexual battery. Reginald Taylor, 20, John Chandler, 19, and Jerome Bracey, 18, had been charged with rape.

Brian Nichols, 22, Robin Lucas, 20, and Richard Bradley, 23, were charged with sexual battery.

The players were suspended from the team and then from school in November after a female student accused them of forcing her to have sex in a campus dormitory.

Jackson State coach Andy Stoglin said he was relieved for the players and their families.

``This was such a devastating thing to the families,'' he said.

Stoglin said Bradley, Taylor, Nichols and Lucas will be allowed to play against Mississippi Valley State at home on Saturday.

Bradley was the team's leading scorer and rebounder last season.

Chandler, Smith and Bracey have transferred to junior colleges, Stoglin said, and could return to Jackson State next season.

The Tigers got off to a 2-11 start, including a 10-game losing streak, without the suspended players.

Jackson State has improved since Southwestern Athletic Conference play began and are 7-16 overall and 6-8 in the league.

In January, the university reinstated the players academically, allowing them to return to school and work out with the team on a limited basis.

According to an affidavit, the incident occurred Nov. 9. In the affidavit, the victim said she had consensual sex with one of the men then was forced to have sex with the others.