Florida vs. Tennessee game in Gainesville to proceed as scheduled

Ahmad Fuelwood (L) scores a touchdown past Jamarcus King at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Saturday’s Tennessee vs. Florida game in Gainesville will proceed as scheduled despite the damage caused by Hurricane Irma across the state of Florida.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release Tuesday that Florida has been “diligent in assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Gainesville community” and “made a thoughtful decision” to move forward with the game against the Volunteers remaining in place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The game’s start time remains 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.

The SEC said the storm’s impact on Florida’s campus and the surrounding area and the accessibility of the resources “necessary to conduct a football game” were also evaluated.

“We appreciate the communication, coordination and cooperation among the many agencies and groups necessary to produce a game in a safe environment. Our prayers remain with the people of Florida as well as Texas as they recover from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey,” Sankey said.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said UF athletics officials met with the City of Gainesville and others, including “numerous staffing entities,” before agreeing to proceed with the game.

“While we know how important it is for this campus and the Gainesville community to host a game, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that have been impacted by the storm, and we are thankful for the support Floridians have received during this time,” Stricklin said.

“There has been a tremendous amount of cooperation between local authorities, the Southeastern Conference and the Tennessee athletic program throughout this process and we are grateful for these strong partnerships.”

Added Tennessee AD John Currie: “We appreciate the communication from both our friends in Gainesville and the conference office as this assessment was made. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Irma and other recent storms throughout the SEC footprint, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to travel to Florida this weekend.”

Florida advised fans to “expect increased congestion and traffic” due to clean up efforts and encouraged fans to plan to arrive “30 minutes earlier than a normal home game.”

Two games scheduled for the upcoming weekend — UCF vs. Georgia Tech and FIU vs. Indiana — have already been canceled because of the lingering effects of Irma. Additionally, Florida State and Indiana agreed to move their game to Oct. 7.

In Week 2, the following schools were forced to cancel their games: Miami, Florida, Florida State, UCF and USF. A few other games were moved to Birmingham, Alabama.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!