Miami-Arkansas State canceled, FSU, UF, USF games moved up due to Hurricane Irma (Updating)

Miami head coach Mark Richt stretches with the players before an NCAA college football game against Bethune-Cookman, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami’s game at Arkansas State on Saturday has been canceled.

With Hurricane Irma fast approaching the coast of Florida, the Associated Press first reported that the school opted not to send the football team to Jonesboro with the Category 5 storm expected to hit the state of Florida on Sunday. Miami confirmed the news later Wednesday morning, saying it has canceled weekend athletic contests across all sports.

The decision was made by Director of Athletics Blake James in consultation with President Dr. Julio Frenk, as well as University and community leadership. Experts from The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami were also consulted. Based on the projected timing and path of Hurricane Irma, the University has cancelled classes beginning today, Wednesday, September 6th. Governor Rick Scott and President Frenk both declared a State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Irma’s approach to Florida. The University’s preparedness plan has been activated and all precautions will be taken to protect students and staff.

The game between the Red Wolves and Hurricanes, which was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, will not be made up because the teams have “no mutually available dates.”

“The decision to cancel these athletic contests is difficult, especially as some are scheduled to take place away from Miami,” James said. “However, we made the collective decision that we simply cannot put our student-athletes, coaches and staff in danger traveling to and from contests. As we have seen from the tragic impact of Hurricane Harvey — and from South Florida’s own experiences — the impacts of hurricanes can be devastating and long-lasting, and can make travel extremely difficult and dangerous.

“I want to thank all of our opponents for their cooperation and understanding. Our thoughts are with those in the path of Hurricane Irma both here in South Florida and afar. We are comforted in knowing that our community is strong and will come together, if needed, to recover from the storm.”

In a statement, Arkansas State AD Terry Mohajir said Arkansas State, the Sun Belt and ESPN offered to move the game to Friday night, but Miami “ultimately made the decision not to travel.”

“Having lived in Palm Beach County for seven years, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in South Florida as they prepare for Hurricane Irma,” Mohajir’s statement began. “Over the past 24 hours I had numerous exchanges with University of Miami Athletics Director Blake James, offering to make additional accommodations for his players and program to assist them with their trip to Memphis and Jonesboro. This morning I spoke with Blake (James), who informed me their team will not be making the trip to Jonesboro to play in our game this Saturday.

“I appreciate the Sun Belt Conference office, Commissioner Karl Benson and ESPN’s work to give us the option to move the game and broadcast to Friday night, which gave the University of Miami an alternative. Ultimately, the Miami administration made the decision not to travel. We are currently working through all the variables associated with the game not being played. We will keep the fan base and media updated as we know more.”

According to the Sun Sentinel, coach Mark Richt relayed the news of the cancellation to his team on Wednesday morning. Miami, which won its opener over Bethune-Cookman and plays Florida State on Sept. 16, had already canceled classes through at least Monday, joining a number of other universities taking caution with the storm approaching.

Florida State, originally scheduled to host Louisiana-Monroe at 7 p.m. Saturday night, moved its game up to noon on Saturday.

“We have moved the game time after consulting with a number of state agencies and based on the information we have on the potential impact on the state,” said FSU President John Thrasher. “The earlier start will give ULM the opportunity to travel safely after the game, and provide many of our fans a chance to come to the game and return home in time to make any necessary preparations.”

Florida, originally scheduled to host Northern Colorado on Saturday night, also moved its game up to noon.

“We have worked closely with campus and regional authorities over the last 48 hours to find the best possible solution that allows us to play the game and takes into account the safety of our fans, players, staff and personnel working the game,” said UF athletic director Scott Stricklin. “With tropical conditions possibly expected in our region on Saturday night or Sunday morning, moving the game from 7:30 to Noon will give people a chance to come to the game and return home before any expected weather or effects hit our area.”

UCF moved its game with Memphis from Saturday to Friday night at 6:30 p.m. ET.

“The best option for ensuring this game is played is to move it to Friday night,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “With travel considerations, we had to make that decision today. I thank the University of Memphis and the American Athletic Conference for working with us to keep safety our top priority while finding a way to play this game.”

USF‘s game at UConn on Saturday has been moved up from noon to a 10:30 a.m. ET kickoff, UConn announced, “pending any other significant weather changes that impact travel plans for USF.”

UConn said earlier Wednesday it was working with USF and the American Athletic Conference on potential contingency plans for the game, including “moving the game to an earlier kickoff Saturday or potentially cancelling the contest.” Ultimately, the schools opted to move the game’s start time to the morning.

UConn’s initial statement is below:

Florida International‘s home game against Alcorn State has been moved from Saturday in Miami to Friday evening at 6 p.m. in Birmingham. The game will be hosted by UAB at Legion Field.

“I want to thank UAB Director of Athletics Mark Ingram, the University of Alabama Birmingham and the Birmingham community for their tremendous help and assistance. The UAB family has gone above-and-beyond to make us feel welcome,” said FIU Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the FIU community. We’re doing everything we can to play the game, but the safety of the families in South Florida is most important to us,” said Alcorn State director of athletics Derek Horne Wednesday morning.

Florida Atlantic‘s game at Wisconsin, scheduled for noon Saturday, will go on as planned. The Owls will arrive in Madison on Friday and contingencies have been arranged by Wisconsin if FAU cannot return to Florida immediately after the game.

“The health and safety of the student-athletes is always our first priority and our discussions with FAU centered around just that,” Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said.

“The decision was made to keep the game as originally scheduled since their travel to Madison will not be impacted. If the situation arises where FAU’s travel home is impacted, we are prepared to help in any way possible. We’ve discussed a number of contingencies, from paying for extra nights of hotel rooms to opening up our facilities for them to use for practice, sports medicine care, meals or anything else they may need.

“We’ve seen the devastation that these storms can inflict and our thoughts are with all those who may be affected.”

Georgia Southern‘s game against New Hampshire will also be moved to Legion Field in Birmingham at 4 p.m. ET Saturday.

“When looking at the possibilities where we could try and play this football game, UAB and A.D. Mark Ingram reached out to us and offered us their facilities,” Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein said. “After reviewing the updated forecast, we believe the best option for ensuring this game being played is to move to Birmingham. With the developing weather situation, it was paramount to make a decision today so that we would not have to pull resources that may be used in an evacuation scenario.

“I want to thank Mark Ingram, the City of Birmingham and everyone involved in helping make this move possible. This couldn’t have been done without the flexibility of the University of New Hampshire and our staff.”

This is the second straight week a hurricane has impacted the college football schedule. Last week, the historic flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey forced the LSU vs. BYU game to relocate from Houston to New Orleans. Other games, including Houston’s game at UTSA, were postponed.

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

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