By ANTONYA ENGLISH
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 12, 2001
Top-ranked Miami and No. 13 Washington indefinitely postponed their college football game scheduled for Saturday after Tuesday's terrorist attacks that toppled the World Trade Center's twin towers, severely damaged the Pentagon and stunned a nation.
"The University of Miami takes this action out of respect for the people who gave their lives in today's tragedy," athletic director Paul Dee said.
Athletic activities at all nine ACC schools have been postponed through Thursday, including the Penn State at Virginia football game and the Ohio at North Carolina State game.
The Ohio-N.C. State game has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 24. No date has been set for the Penn State-Virginia game.
The Pac-10 voted to postpone all conference competition through the weekend. Arizona State and No. 14 UCLA had been scheduled to play Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
In the Big Ten, No. 21 Ohio State postponed Saturday's home game with San Diego State until Oct. 20, an open date for both schools.
Another Thursday night game, Texas Tech at Texas-El Paso, was postponed and tentatively rescheduled for Saturday night, pending a decision by conference commissioners. Thursday's other game, Kentucky Wesleyan at Tennessee-Martin, was scheduled to be played, school officials said.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and Florida State athletic director Dave Hart said the SEC and ACC will hold teleconferences this morning to discuss whether cancellation of Saturday's football games is warranted. A national conference call of league commissioners to discuss the subject is scheduled for today.
"Obviously when we are talking about a situation that just occurred in this country today, football games become pretty insignificant," Foley said.
In Division I, there were 116 games scheduled Thursday through Saturday, including three major matchups in Florida: Washington at Miami, No. 8 Tennessee at No. 2 Florida and No. 10 Georgia Tech at No. 6 Florida State.
NCAA president Cedric Dempsey said conferences and individual schools have the authority to postpone or play all regular-season games, but that the NCAA would cooperate with any executive orders from President Bush.
"The games themselves are insignificant in the face of what has happened today," Dempsey said. "Our focus is entirely on the safety of student-athletes, athletics personnel and fans."
SEC officials remained uncertain whether this weekend's games will go on.
"We are monitoring the situation," SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said. "We're also talking to other conferences to see what they are going to do." Bloom said because travel arrangements must be taken into consideration, a decision most likely will be made by Thursday.
Stunned Florida players and coaches said they would understand a decision to cancel the games.
"As much as I'd love to play the game and as much as this game means to everybody, this makes you realize that there are a lot of things in this world much more important than football," UF defensive end Alex Brown said. Early Tuesday, Foley canceled Tuesday's Florida-Florida State volleyball match. South Florida and Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton canceled practices for athletic teams Tuesday afternoon. Football practice at Central Florida, FSU, Florida and Miami were held as scheduled.
"Practice, playing Southern Utah (this Saturday) and our game with Pittsburgh (last week) really isn't that significant when you put into perspective what is happening on the national scene," Bulls coach Jim Leavitt said.
ESPNews canceled a telecast of UF coach Steve Spurrier's weekly news conference at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"Obviously this has been a sad day," Spurrier said. "Our country has been attacked, and to tell you the truth, when I saw the video of that plane hitting the World Trade Center I had a tough time going back to football. I am sure everyone is like that right now."
FSU coach Bobby Bowden said he would like to see the games played if security is not an issue.
"I would want to play if it's the right thing to do," Bowden said. "If it's a national emergency and they feel we couldn't play, I would sure go along with it. I've always felt like you hate that terrorists or whoever it is can shut down your whole nation. But yet I just can't fathom what happened up there. I think of Pearl Harbor. We lost 2,000 people and declared war. How many did we lose up there? But who are you going to declare war on?"
- Times staff writers Brian Landman and Pete Young contributed to this report, which used information from the Associated Press.