Miami-Arkansas State cancelled because of Hurricane Irma, won’t be rescheduled this season

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The threat posed by Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category 5 storm barreling toward Florida, prompted UCF to push its home game with Memphis up on the schedule, from Saturday to Friday.  Today brings word that another game has been pushed off the schedule completely.

Miami announced Wednesday that its game at Arkansas State, along with all other athletic events, has been canceled.  And, because there are no mutual bye weeks moving forward, the game will not be rescheduled, at least this season.

While the hurricane is expected to have minimal impact on the state of Arkansas, the concern for UM was getting back to South Florida from Jonesboro as Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, is expected to make landfall in their area this weekend.

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

As for other Irma-related developments, it was reported overnight that Florida International’s game against Alcorn State will not be played at Miami’s Riccardo Silva Stadium.  To where the game will be moved, or if it’s even played, remains to be seen as the school has made no official announcement one way or the other.

There’s also the possibility that Florida State’s game against Louisiana-Monroe, scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Tallahassee Saturday night, could be moved to noon that day.

UPDATED 10:24 a.m. ET: Florida State did indeed announce Wednesday morning that its game against Louisiana-Monroe in Tallahassee Saturday has been moved from 7 ET to noon ET.

“We have moved the game time after consulting with a number of state agencies and based on the information we have on the potential impact on the state,” said FSU president John Thrasher in a statement. “The earlier start will give ULM the opportunity to travel safely after the game, and provide many of our fans a chance to come to the game and return home in time to make any necessary preparations.”

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.