University of Miami

Miami Hurricanes cancel game in Arkansas due to Irma. Next stop: Tallahassee

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier during Saturday’s win over Bethune-Cookman at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier during Saturday’s win over Bethune-Cookman at Hard Rock Stadium.

The University of Miami announced Wednesday morning that the Hurricanes have canceled the football game originally scheduled for Saturday in Jonesboro, Arkansas, with concerns for the well-being of players and staff and their families as Category 5 Hurricane Irma heads toward South Florida.

UM reported that the game will not be rescheduled this season, making No. 10 Florida State (0-1) UM’s next opponent Sept. 16 in Tallahassee. That game is a prime-time 8 p.m. kickoff on ABC.

It remains to be seen what impact Irma might have on South Florida and how that, in turn, would affect the FSU game — if at all. FSU already has moved up Saturday’s game to noon because of the hurricane.

“The decision to cancel these athletic contests is difficult, especially as some are scheduled to take place away from Miami,” UM athletic director Blake James said in a statement regarding Arkansas State. “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.”

Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said, in a released statement, that he previously lived in Palm Beach County and that the Sun Belt Conference offered UM the alternative to move up the game, including the broadcast, to Friday night, but that Miami declined.

“We are currently working through all the variables associated with the game not being played,’’ Mohajir said in the release. “We will keep the fan base and media updated as we know more.’’

UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown talked about the implications of the storm Tuesday, saying that “lives are definitely more important than football.’’

James made the decision “in consultation with President Dr. Julio Frenk, as well as University and community leadership,’’ according to UM, and officials from UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science were also consulted.

Governor Rick Scott and Frenk both declared a State of Emergency in advance of the hurricane’s approach, and UM canceled classes for the rest of the week.

No. 16 Miami (1-0), which won its season opener against Bethune-Cookman University last weekend, was scheduled to fly to Memphis on Friday and drive to Jonesboro for its game Saturday afternoon.

Watch as Irma enters the Western Atlantic.

Related stories from Miami Herald