Football navigates scheduling issues due to Hurricane Irma


IU Athletics Director Fred Glass meets with the news media after a tour of the IU Excellence Academy renovation project in August. Glass had to move quickly to ensure that IU football had a 12-game schedule in 2017. Josh Eastern Buy Photos

Fewer than 24 hours after IU secured its first win of the season against Virginia, IU Athletics Director Fred Glass knew there was a chance this weekend's scheduled home game against Florida International would not be played. 

Hurricane Irma, the Category 4 hurricane that first made landfall in Florida on Sept. 10, had already caused a logistical nightmare for FIU's student-athletes. 

A total of 170 FIU student-athletes were relocated from the school's campus in University Park, Florida, to Birmingham, Alabama, prior to the storm's arrival. This included the FIU football team, which played its "home" opener last Friday night at Legion Field in Birmingham.

The Golden Panthers claimed a 17-10 win in the final minutes against Alcorn State in that game. But by Sunday, FIU Athletics Director Pete Garcia and Glass were in contact regarding FIU's upcoming visit to Bloomington.

Discussions between Glass and Garcia continued into Monday, before IU Athletics released a statement late Monday night announcing that the game between FIU and IU had been canceled

"Indiana supports FIU's decision to cancel Saturday's football game in Bloomington in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which devastated South Florida over the weekend," the IU Athletics release said.

IU Coach Tom Allen addressed the possibility that the FIU game would be canceled during his weekly press conference Monday at the Henke Hall of Champions inside Memorial Stadium.

"I don't know what's going to happen this weekend," Allen said. "I don't think anybody knows really what's going on at this point. The plan is to play the game."

Beyond the cancelation of this weekend's game, the effects of Hurricane Irma struck Allen, personally. 

Prior to joining Kevin Wilson's staff at IU as a defensive coordinator in January 2016, Allen was the defensive coordinator at South Florida. He also spent time in Florida as a high school coach during the 1990s, and his son, IU freshman linebacker Thomas Allen, attended Plant High School in Tampa, as did three other freshmen on the IU roster.

"Last night, just from my personal experience with our friends down there, we were on the phone with them up until one in the morning checking on them," Allen said. "Got some messages this morning from our close friends down in that area to say that they're okay, which is great. A lot of damage."

During an appearance Tuesday afternoon on Indianapolis sports-talk radio show "The Ride with JMV," Glass said the FIU game will be made up in 2024, as part of a series in which IU will also later play at FIU.

Once the FIU game was canceled, IU acted quickly to add another game to its 2017 schedule. IU Athletics released a statement Tuesday announcing that IU and Charleston Southern, an FCS school, will play a game in Bloomington on Oct. 7.

The date works well for both schools, as both IU and Charleston Southern had bye weeks scheduled for Oct. 7.

Charleston Southern was also looking to add a game to its schedule after its game last weekend at South Carolina State was canceled.

By replacing the FIU game, IU preserves the revenue source that comes with a home football game. Additionally, the Hoosiers retain a nonconference home game as part of the 2017 schedule.

During his Tuesday radio appearance, Glass said the Charleston Southern game will cost IU $500,000, in addition to $250,000 in extra expenses.

IU would normally have to ask for a waiver to schedule an FCS school, but the Hoosiers don't have to thanks to a scheduling quirk this season. A Big Ten Conference rule allows teams that have only four home conference games to play an FCS opponent.

After having five Big Ten home games last year, IU has only four home conference games in 2017, which allowed Glass to put pen to paper on the Charleston Southern game contract.

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