After several days of monitoring the approaching storm, the biggest schools in South Carolina had little choice but to alter football games due to Hurricane Florence.
South Carolina Wednesday canceled its game with Marshall that was scheduled for Saturday night. University officials announced the decision just hours after head coach Will Muschamp sounded confident the teams would play.
Second-ranked Clemson pushed up the start time of its game at home against Georgia Southern, with the kickoff now taking place at noon instead of 3:30 p.m. EST.
“Whether or not the game could have been played, we made the decision we think is best for the state and those who are evacuating the coast,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said. “There is no question this is the right thing to do.”
As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and South Carolina and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents.
South Carolina will look to add a 12th game to its schedule later this season.
It is the third time in four seasons Tanner and the football team have had severe weather change its football schedule.
In 2015, a home game against LSU was moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, because of fatal flooding a week earlier. Personnel needed to handle a home game at 80,000-seat Williams-Brice Stadium were need to cope with flood-related emergencies.
A year later, Hurricane Matthew swamped the area and South Carolina’s home game against Georgia was delayed a day and played on a Sunday.
Clemson officials cited the “uncertainty” of Florence’s track. On Tuesday, officials felt hopeful of forecasts that had the storm turning slightly north. By Wednesday, though, the dangerous, Category 4 monster had turned slightly southward with some projections saying it will settle over the Palmetto State for a bit.
Tanner said not having the game will free up personnel to help people in need and open up hotel rooms usually occupied by football fans.
The South Carolina AD and Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick talked several times and agreed on canceling the game, Tanner said.
Florence’s track had colleges in the Carolinas and Virginia changing plans.
Appalachian State canceled its home game with Southern Miss. Charlotte moved its scheduled home game in North Carolina against Old Dominion from Saturday to Thursday night to beat Florence’s arrival.
East Carolina is relocating its football team to Florida by bus.
The school said in a statement Wednesday it began the move to Orlando that morning. It cited lodging availability, the storm’s projected path through the Carolinas and “lessons learned from past difficulties returning home to an area impacted by widespread flooding.”
ECU said the move also will make it easier to deal with logistics for the team’s game next week at South Florida in Tampa if flooding occurs back at the Greenville campus.
The school’s game at No. 13 Virginia Tech had previously been canceled.
Tennessee’s game with UTEP remains on the schedule. The Vols are offering free tickets to residents of North and South Carolina under evacutation orders for the noon game.
Among FCS schools, Furman has cancelled its home game with Colgate in Greenville, South Carolina, while Presbyterian said its planned home contest with Stetson in Clinton, South Carolina, would be played at the visitor’s field in Deland, Florida.
Richmond has moved its scheduled home football game this week against St. Francis to Pennsylvania. The game was scheduled to be played Saturday but will now be played at 5 p.m. Thursday.
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