Update 5:45 p.m. | Louisiana Sen. David Vitter will be pleased to hear that the Southeastern Conference has now announced the postponement of the football game between LSU and Florida that had been scheduled for Saturday in Gainsville.
“We had a very productive phone call today with a great spirit of cooperation between the universities’ presidents and athletics directors and it became clear that the University of Florida could neither host nor travel to a game this weekend considering the circumstances,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said. “The developments of the hurricane in the last 24 hours, the projected magnitude of its impact and the unknown aftermath of this storm have resulted in this decision to seek another date to play the LSU-Florida game.”
The announcement is a change of plans from Wednesday, when Florida had said the game would go on.
Vitter responded to that by sending a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
2:05 p.m. | Sen. David Vitter has written to Florida Gov. Rick Scott seeking to have Saturday afternoon’s LSU-Florida football game moved out of Gainesville because of the threat of Hurricane Matthew.
The school said Wednesday that the game wouldn’t be rescheduled, but kickoff would be pushed back to 3 p.m., the Times-Picayune reported.
“There are numerous options at UF’s disposal to safely conduct this game, including rescheduling for a later date, and I implore you to discuss these with UF’s Athletic Department,” Vitter wrote. “Again, unless you and the UF Athletic staff want to end up on a segment of ESPN’s ‘C’mon Man,’ I urge you to work with the Athletic Department at UF to reconsider hosting this weekend’s game in Gainesville.”
An update on the game’s status was scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, the news site reported. Officials from both schools and the Southeastern Conference were discussing how to deal with the aftermath of the storm, which is expected to hit the state Thursday and Friday.
“We are working closely with local, state and University officials as well as the Southeastern Conference office to monitor the progress of Hurricane Matthew and its potential impact on campus and the safety of the fans,” the University of Florida said in a statement.
Vitter expressed concern about travel for the Louisiana State University team, while also pointing to his own state’s experience with hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005.
The LSU team was to fly into Ocala, Florida, near UF, on Friday but will now land in Tampa, on the other side of the Florida peninsula.
“You have clearly been very thorough in your preparedness plan, however UF’s decision endangers the safety and well-being of not only the players of UF and LSU, but also the fans, coaching staff, stadium workers, police, emergency medical technicians, and a host of other people who will have to travel to and stay in Gainesville if this game is held there,” Vitter wrote. “The people of Louisiana know all too well the dangers associated with hurricanes of this magnitude as they hit land.”
“The scars left by Hurricane Katrina, which hit over 11 years ago, resulted in over 1,800 fatalities in the Louisiana-Mississippi area and devastated the region, including Florida,” he added.