Barry Jackson

Here’s how UM settled lawsuit with Arkansas State. And why Canes lost out on key recruit

The damage from Hurricane Irma was extensive, including in this area of Big Pine Key.
The damage from Hurricane Irma was extensive, including in this area of Big Pine Key. Miami Herald staff

UM and Arkansas State quietly settled dueling lawsuits this week that stemmed from the Hurricanes canceling a road game against ASU last season because of Hurricane Irma, according to multiple sources.

According to a source, UM will pay ASU $400,000 — well under the $650,000 it would have cost UM in a buyout to cancel the game. UM believed it would have cost close to $400,000 — with legal fees and other costs — had the matter not been resolved, so that’s why UM settled at that amount.

But the settlement does not include any future games between the teams.

ASU wanted the Hurricanes to play there, but UM declined after the lawsuits were filed.

Some believe Arkansas State officials were insensitive in their handling of the matter as a hurricane barreled in on South Florida last September, so UM appeared disinclined to play a future game there.

UM athletic director Blake James confirmed a settlement was reached but declined to give details.

The deal was struck during a mediation session on Monday; judges from both Miami and Jonesboro, Arkansas, previously ordered the sides to go to third-party mediation, with a deadline of Dec. 20 to resolve the matter.

UM canceled the game last September because of concerns about traveling back to South Florida with a hurricane looming. Shortly after Miami announced the game would be canceled, ASU complained that UM declined the option to play the game a day earlier than the scheduled Saturday kickoff.

UM sued ASU last February in an effort to void the contract, claiming the effects of the hurricane were beyond its control.

ASU then sued Miami two days later, alleging breach of contract and seeking financial damages.

Before the lawsuit was filed, ASU athletic director Terry Mohajir asked James to reschedule the game for either 2020 or 2021. But James reportedly said UM could only reschedule the Jonesboro game during the 2024-28 seasons. As it turns out, the schools will not play again.

The two-game contract included a 2014 game at Hard Rock Stadium, which UM won, 41-20.

McINTOSH FALLOUT

UM’s struggles this season were a factor in four-star Fort Lauderdale University School running back Kenny McIntosh committing to Georgia on Wednesday, according to his father.

Richard McIntosh Sr. said “Miami’s struggles contributed” to his decision, as well as the Hurricanes’ “lack of offensive production, the decommits they’ve had” and the difficulty generating a running game behind their offensive line.

McIntosh Sr. said he was giving his understanding of the situation and not speaking on behalf of his son.

Kenny McIntosh — rated the No. 6 running back and 112th best overall 2019 prospect by Rivals — called UM coach Mark Richt and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown to inform them of his decision on Tuesday night, according to his father.

“He has a good relationship with coach Brown,” said McIntosh Sr., whose son Richard Jr. was a defensive tackle for UM and a fifth-round pick of the Giants earlier this year.

What factored into Kenny’s decision to pick Georgia over UM, Auburn and Oklahoma?

“They sold him in their presentation,” McIntosh Sr. said. “Coach [Kirby] Smart and the offensive coordinator showed him on the big screen exactly how they planned to use him, how they use their backs and similarities with his high school system. Their presentation was by far the best. They’re dedicated to running the ball.”

Kenny also spoke to New England Patriots and former Plantation American Heritage running back Sony Michel, who played at Georgia, for input about attending Georgia and received positive feedback.

Though Richard McIntosh Sr. said “my heart is with UM,” he said he supports his son’s decision and expects him to stand by his commitment, even though he’s still planning an official visit to UM in December.

McIntosh Sr. said UM has expressed interest in both Kenny and his brother Deon, a former Notre Dame running back who’s now at a Mississippi junior college.

Whether UM now pursues Deon McIntosh remains to be seen. A three-star prospect coming out of Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons in 2016, Deon had just eight carries (and 65 yards) for Notre Dame last season, but five of those carries went for touchdowns.

Rivals’ Rob Cassidy said from a UM perspective, losing out on Kenny McIntosh “stings. McIntosh’s older brother attended Miam,i and the Hurricanes were counting on him following suit for much of this cycle. Many UM fans aren’t happy with how things have played out this season, and it’s natural to wonder if the program’s inability to make forward progress from last year impacted McIntosh’s recruitment. That said, Miami landed five-star running back Lorenzo Lingard in addition to four-star Cameron Davis a year ago, so it’s not as though the cupboard is bare at running back.

“The pain cause by the loss of McIntosh will be compounded if the Hurricanes also see priority defensive back target Tyrique Stevenson choose Georgia,” Cassidy wrote. “Such an event seems like a serious possibility come Signing Day. Kirby Smart is quickly becoming a thorn in Mark Richt’s side. That much is clear.”

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