Football Teams Evacuate; Schools Cancel Classes
by Michael Louis
Hattiesburg is the home of Southern Miss' main campus. Though the town is located some 90 miles away from the gulf shore, winds topped 100 miles per hour and caused significant damage. As of Sunday, power was still not restored to some areas around Hattiesburg. Mississippi Power estimated that nearly 70 percent of the company's facilities would need major repairs.
Hurricane Katrina's massive destruction in the southern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama caused two games to be postponed and another to be canceled altogether even though it was scheduled to be played hundreds of miles away.
Nicholls State, a 1-AA program located 60 miles west-southwest of New Orleans in Thibodaux, scrapped its game at Utah State scheduled for Thursday night. The college is the site of a tent city for evacuees but plans to reopen on Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend.
Saturday's North Texas-LSU game will be rescheduled. Sunday's Tulane-Southern Miss affair was pushed back to November 26.
Tulane, located in New Orleans, has canceled the entire fall semester. The Green Wave football team was evacuated to Dallas and is practicing at Dallas Jesuit High School. Thankfully, not one football player or family member became a statistic in the storm's mounting death toll. Contact was established with the last missing parent on Friday.
Tulane's next scheduled game was supposed to be played in the Louisiana Superdome on September 17. A definitive decision has not been made regarding that contest, but it obviously won't be played at the Superdome.
LSU is 80 miles up the road in the state capital of Baton Rouge, whose population has reportedly doubled in the past week with the influx of displaced residents from New Orleans, Slidell and surrounding areas. The LSU campus has been serving as an emergency medical operations center. Classes have been canceled since August 29 but are expected to resume September 6.
Southern Miss issued a statement on Friday that said classes were originally scheduled to resume September 6, but logistical issues concerning power on campus and the clearing of debris forced moving the date back to September 12.
The Southern Miss football team was relocated to the campus of a conference rival - the University of Memphis - where it will stay until its game at Alabama this coming Saturday (9/10). The Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger reported that Coach Jeff Bower said Friday he is concerned about the absence of junior safety LeVance Richmond. He has not been heard from since Wednesday and has not joined the team in Memphis.
The return of college football was a welcomed sight to millions of fans around the country, but it is doubtful that anyone was able to escape their thoughts and mourning for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.