Saturday's scheduled college football game between the University of Miami and Arkansas State at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Arkansas, has been canceled due to concerns over Hurricane Irma's potential impact.
Miami Director of Athletics Blake James confirmed the decision in a statement:
"The decision to cancel these athletic contests is difficult, especially as some are scheduled to take place away from Miami," James said. "However, we made the collective decision that we simply cannot put our student-athletes, coaches and staff in danger travelling to and from contests. As we have seen from the tragic impact of Hurricane Harvey—and from South Florida's own experiences—the impacts of hurricanes can be devastating and long-lasting, and can make travel extremely difficult and dangerous.
"I want to thank all of our opponents for their cooperation and understanding. Our thoughts are with those in the path of Hurricane Irma both here in South Florida and afar. We are comforted in knowing that our community is strong and will come together, if needed, to recover from the storm."
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press noted it wasn't possible for the Hurricanes and Red Wolves to reschedule the contest during the 2017 season. Peter Ariz of the Miami Herald reported the Canes were concerned about returning home following the contest with the storm possibly hitting Florida this weekend.
Hurricane Irma has intensified into a Category 5 storm in the Atlantic Ocean, but the forecast track and United States impact remains uncertain, per Jon Erdman of the Weather Channel. Some projections have the eye going directly over Florida, while others have it staying offshore to the east.
"But the forecast for Irma's center track extends well to the west and east of South Florida, which could spare the area from a direct strike from the eyewall," Erdman wrote. "Regardless, conditions in South Florida may go downhill as soon as midday Saturday, making any last-hour preparations difficult."
The game between Miami and Arkansas State was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon, so the Hurricanes wouldn't have traveled home until the evening hours, when the storm could already be making a significant impact on the area.
Arkansas State opened its season with a hard-fought 43-36 loss to Nebraska last week. The Red Wolves will return to action Sept. 16 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in what will now serve as the team's home opener at Centennial Bank Stadium.
Miami scored a routine 41-13 victory over Bethune-Cookman in Week 1. Next up for the Canes, who are ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press poll, is a high-profile rivalry clash with Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee on Sept. 16.