University of Miami

Arkansas State AD offered UM football a Friday option. UM declined

Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir, a former high-level athletic department official for FAU in Boca Raton, said on Wednesday that his “thoughts and prayers are with everyone in South Florida as they prepare for Hurricane Irma.’’

Mohajir also made it clear that the Hurricanes, who canceled the football game that was scheduled for Saturday in Jonesboro, Arkansas, were offered the option to play the game Friday night, and that Arkansas State offered “to make additional accomodations’’ for UM’s players and program to assist them with their trip to Memphis and Jonesboro.’’

“I appreciate the Sun Belt Conference office, Comissioner Karl Benson and ESPN’s work to give us the option to move the game and broadcast to Friday night,’’ Mohajir said in the release, “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.’’

Hurricanes athletic director Blake James went on 560 WQAM radio to expound on the decision and reiterate that it was based on ensuring the well-being of players, staff and their families. And while he expressed his admiration for Mohajir, who formerly was in charge of marketing, ticket sales, corporate sales and the media relations department at FAU, James added that Mohajir was “obviously frustrated and disappointed that the game is not going to happen.”

“To have the Miami Hurricanes coming to Jonesboro is probably as big a game as they’ve had and that’s not going to happen, so I understand the disappointment and frustration and his desire to make this game happen,’’ James told WQAM. “I’ll say he exhausted every effort and did everything that someone could do to try to make this a situation that works. It really came down to the fact that it wasn’t a situation where we felt we would be able to either get there in a safe fashion or return in a timely fashion, not knowing where the path of the storm is going to go and what that’s going to mean.”

Though the game will not be replayed this season, James said in probably “a few years out,’’ because of how far in advance UM has its football scheduling done, UM would play at Jonesboro if Arkansas State wanted the game.

“We just didn’t feel that was the right situation for all those involved with our program... We just wanted our kids in any of our sports to be able to do the things they needed to do to be prepared, to take care of their families and in certain cases take care of their children and be ready to go for this storm.”

So, if the storm descends on South Florida on Saturday or Sunday, could UM’s next game, on Sept. 16 at Florida State in Tallahassee, be affected? Seems pretty certain that at least the preparation leading up to the game would take a hit.

“We won’t practice again until after the storm passes,’’ James said during the radio interview. “Based on the extent of what Irma does to our campus and our community will probably dictate when we practice again and where.

“It’s so hard to know what the impact of this storm is going to be right now. It’s premature to tell you we’re going to be ready to go on Sunday night, starting game week of FSU, or on Tuesday. Normal practice week for Mark is Sunday, Monday off, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we’d be moving up.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the storm and how that will impact our practice with Florida State, but that’s not the concern right now. Right now it’s really making sure that we’re taking care of all the kids in our program, that they’re with their families or in a safe spot and just ready for the storm as much as anybody can be.”