Tulane to play football this fall

Updated: September 3, 2005, 1:26 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

They haven't quite figured out how yet, but Tulane is going to play football this season.

Students are being allowed to enroll in "nine of the leading higher education associations," according to a statement from Tulane president Scott Cowen. That means the school's athletes will also be able to play sports this fall.

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"We're playing ball," said Scott Sidwell, Tulane's associate athletic director. "Now it's up to us to make it happen."

Athletic director Rick Dickson and Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky began discussing contingency plans for Tulane after the team forced to leave New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. The duo flew to Houston on Friday and met with Cowen.

"Until 4 p.m. on Friday," Dickson said, "we didn't know the answer if we could compete in our sports programs."

But a decision was made to get Tulane students in classrooms, and that meant football players, too. The team is currently staying in Dallas, as guests of Southern Methodist University.

"We want our athletes to carry the torch, face, and name of Tulane University during this difficult time," Cowen said.

"Logistics have not even been tackled," said Dickson, who will remain in Houston for weekend meetings. "The first priority between now and next week is to make a decision of where to place the team and to get them in class."

Dickson told Houston's KRIV-TV on Friday night 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 has made it the first stopping point to see if it's feasible," Dickson told KRIV.

Dickson added it all sports, not just football. "It's our entire 16-sport program for the fall, 325 student-athletes, 100 employees."

Tulane, Houston and Rice are Conference USA members.

The Green Wave's first game will be Sept. 17 against Mississippi State. It is yet to be determined whether the game, originally scheduled for New Orleans, will be played in Starkville, Miss., or in Tulane's future "home."

But the players just want to play.

"We need this season," Wave quarterback Lester Ricard said. "I think that will be the ultimate joy, to see us do well this season."

"It's something that we want to do for New Orleans," Wave linebacker Antonio Mason said. "A lot of people look at us as not only reps of Tulane, but of New Orleans. People can look at us and say, wow, look at that team they're going on the road, going through all that adversity, and still getting the job done."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.