Rice, Houston, A&M reschedule games as Rita looms

Updated: September 22, 2005, 4:37 PM ET
By Joe Schad | Special to ESPN.com

Texas A&M moved forward its home game against Texas State from Saturday to Thursday and Houston and Rice postponed home games with Hurricane Rita approaching.

Texas A&M will host Texas State at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Texas State team will leave its school in San Marcos at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, stop at a College Station church for dinner and then head to the stadium.

Texas State will receive approximately $300,000 to play.

"We have spent the last couple of days reviewing our options," Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said. "Our first objective was the safety of our student-athletes, staff and fans, while still being able to contribute to the community efforts relating to Hurricane Rita."

Even though Texas A&M is not evacuating, Tulane is monitoring the storm. The school is prepared to move athletes on its mens' basketball; women's volleyball; women's soccer; women's swimming and diving; and men's and women's tennis -- which moved to A&M after Katrina -- to Dallas, sports information director John Sudsbury said Thursday.

Houston's home game against Southern Mississippi was postponed until Nov. 12 or 13. The game will be played on Sunday, Nov. 13, unless the Southern Miss-Marshall game on Tuesday, Nov. 8, can be moved back. Houston's game against SMU was moved to Nov. 19 to accommodate the scheduling.

Houston scrapped plans to ride buses because of gridlock as the town evacuates. Instead, the men's basketball team and football team will fly a charter to Tulsa, Okla., and ride out Rita there, Texas men's basketball coach Tom Penders said Thursday.

"We're just all trying to get together enough money to live on," Houston director of football operations Colin Shillinglaw said Wednesday. "We told the players today and you could sense their nervousness because of the unknown. But they know we have to go. We have to evacuate."

The Houston players have been told to pack for up to two weeks.

"We have no idea what we will come home to," Shillinglaw said. "Or when we will be able to come home. We told them to pack all they can."

Shillinglaw spoke with the director of football operations at Southern Miss, who has been through three hurricanes in the past two seasons. Southern Miss also had its season-opener against Tulane postponed due to Hurricane Katrina.

Rice postponed its game against Navy until Oct. 22, when both teams have an open date.

"That was the easy one," Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said Wednesday. "We're taking these as they come. We have as good an understanding of how to deal with these as anyone because we've had so much practice. We're a small part of this story. There are millions of people affected by these hurricanes."

Saturday's Tulane at SMU game in Dallas was moved from the evening to 2 p.m. ET.

Many high-profile college players from the Houston-Galveston area are concerned. At Texas, which has a bye this week, quarterback Vince Young changed plans to visit family in Houston and instead they will visit him in Austin. The family of freshman running back Jamaal Charles, from Port Arthur, will do the same.

The Category 4 storm, packing winds of 150 mph, is expected to make landfall somewhere on the Gulf Coast of Texas early Saturday.

In Natchitoches, La., Northwestern State's Saturday home football game against Texas Southern was called off Thursday.

McNeese State cancels game
LAKE CHARLES, La. -- McNeese State canceled its football game scheduled for Saturday night against Northwestern Oklahoma because of the threat of Hurricane Rita.

The game was canceled by agreement of both schools, said McNeese president Robert Hebert. Hebert said the game will not be rescheduled, although McNeese is working on scheduling a home game for an open date on Oct. 8.

Earlier in the season, McNeese canceled a home game against Southern because of Hurricane Katrina.

Nicholls State cancels game
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Nicholls State's game against Western Carolina, which had been set for Saturday at 2 p.m., has been canceled because of Hurricane Rita, the school said Thursday.

Nicholls athletic director Rob Bernardi is working with Western Carolina athletic director, Chip Smith to try to reschedule the game during the 2006 or 2007 season.

It marks the third time in two years that a Nicholls football game has been canceled due to a hurricane. Last season, the Colonels canceled their game against Texas A&M-Kingsville due to the threat of Hurricane Ivan, and earlier this season, Hurricane Katrina forced Nicholls to cancel their season opener at Utah State.

Sam Houston State cancels game
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri State gets an unexpected day off this weekend because of Hurricane Rita. The Bears were supposed to play Sam Houston State on Saturday in Huntsville. But that town has been picked as an evacuation zone for people who live in Galveston and Houston.

Missouri State coach Randy Ball says the teams talked about playing the game at a neutral site. Problem was, there weren't any buses to transport the Bears to and from the Dallas Airport because they were all being used to evacuate people.

That means Missouri State won't play again until October first, when they go to Southern Illinois.

Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Joe Schad

College Football