Tulane to decide among Austin, Houston, and Dallas
In the wake of the devastation to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, Tulane's athletic department and teams are expected to relocate to one of three Texas cities -- Austin, Houston, or Dallas -- men's basketball coach Dave Dickerson told ESPN.com on Saturday.
Dickerson said he was told of the university's plan by athletic director Rick Dickson earlier in the day.
Dickson, interviewed by Houston TV station KRIV on Friday night, said Tulane's preference is Houston because the school's upper administration has relocated to the city. Currently, the football team is the guest of SMU in Dallas; the women's soccer team has moved its operations to UAB in Birmingham, Ala.; and there are several Conference USA-member schools concentrated in Dallas (SMU) and Houston (Rice and Houston), while Austin lies between the two cities. C-USA is headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
A decision is expected within the coming week.
Dickson told KRIV on Friday that he hopes to make Houston the Green Wave's athletic base for at least the fall semester.
"Because the university is going to set up headquarters for the administration here, we thought it made sense to be in the same city, in the same market. With two conference schools like Rice and Houston and my long-time relationship with those ADs, this has made it the first stopping point to see if it's feasible," he said.
As to where Tulane's athletes will practice, play their "home" games, and attend classes, the decisions will be made by university president Scott Cowen, likely next week to allow students to relocate as soon as possible. Dickson has scheduled a conference call with his head coaches for later Saturday. The school is weighing which city/campus can accommodate athletic teams that can provide class, dorm and practice space.
"I'll be shocked if it's at a school outside of Texas," Dickerson had told ESPN.com on Friday night, a few hours after Cowen announced that Green Wave athletic teams would compete this season despite the cancellation of the fall semester in New Orleans. Non student-athletes will attend other universities and receive credit at Tulane.
University officials are meeting in Houston to devise a plan for the athletic department as well as the rest of the university community. Dickerson said he was under the impression that the school is trying to keep the athletic department in one place. SMU could become its home-away-from-home since the Mustangs have been "unbelievably good to us."
The women's soccer team moved to UAB since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Dickerson is fortunate that the men's basketball team doesn't begin until Oct. 14. But the 38-year-old Dickerson, in his first year at Tulane, said he is adamant that the Green Wave, like other NCAA programs, will start on time.
That goes for all sports, not just football. "It's our entire 16-sport program for the fall, 325 student-athletes, 100 employees."
But there are countless issues for the athletic department to examine. Scheduling could be a major problem with the Green Wave not knowing if they would play "home" games where they'll be headquartered or play all games on the road. Dickerson said using NBA arenas in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston might be a possibility, too. He said that using their practice facilities also might be a possibility. Everything is on the table for the school.
But a number of basics like uniforms need to be reordered. Dickerson thinks Russell -- the apparel manufacturer has a uniform contract with the school -- would be willing to take care of Tulane athletes wherever they land.
Dickerson said he would expect his players to remain in the dorms since that would be the most cost-effective way in this unusual situation. Athletes are already missing class time, but the NCAA has given Tulane and other schools in the area a break by allowing them to compete without having full-time status. Monetary aid for basic needs is going to be allowed, too, considering some of the students might have lost belongings and need to be transported to a new destination.
Tulane's men's basketball players and coaches are spread out across the country with family. That's why a decision on where they will be for the school year needs to be made in the coming days.
"We have to accelerate this, but it's going to take us some time to get everybody in place," Dickerson said.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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