Purdue game's status in question, decision expected later today
By ANDREW SOUKUP
Associate Sports Editor
A decision is expected to be made later today whether or not the Notre Dame-Purdue football game scheduled for Saturday afternoon will be cancelled, The Observer learned Tuesday.
In the wake of the most deadly terrorist attacks in American history, NCAA conference commissioners are expected to announce this afternoon their decision regarding Saturday's football games.
While Notre Dame officials have yet to say they have discussed Saturday's football game, Joe Bennett, vice president of university relations at Purdue University said Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke and Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White spoke Tuesday afternoon.
Bennett said the game was still scheduled to be played Saturday. A release on the Purdue athletic department's web site also said Saturday's football game was still scheduled to take place.
White confirmed that he had a conversation with Burke, but said the two had not discussed the possibility of canceling the game.
"Right now we're consumed by the enormity of the situation," he said.
White also confirmed that he, along with several other high-ranking University officials, met with Notre Dame President Edward Malloy throughout the day to discuss the terrorist attacks, but he said the issue of playing football Saturday never came up.
The two schools expect to reach a decision within the next couple of days, White said.
While both Notre Dame and Purdue cancelled Tuesday press conferences by each head coach, only the Irish cancelled practice. The Boilermakers continued practicing as planned, Purdue's sports information office confirmed.
The decision to play Saturday's game could also lie in the hands of the Big Ten conference, of which Purdue is a member. Athletic directors from each of the 11 Big Ten schools were expected to discuss the situation tomorrow morning in a conference call.
Sue Lister, the associate Big Ten commissioner, said the athletic directors would be talking about athletic events in the conference, including Saturday's football games.
"It's too early for me to speculate that games are going to be cancelled. I don't think it's fair to say that," Lister said. "I think it's fair to say they'll be discussing [weekend sporting events]."
But even if the Big Ten decides to play the games, the NCAA could still decide otherwise. Conference commissioners from all 10 Division I football conferences were expected to discuss the football situation tomorrow afternoon after gathering input from their respective conference schools.
NCAA president Cedric Dempsey said conferences and individual schools would be given the authority to determine whether or not to hold any scheduled games.
"The games themselves are insignificant in the face of what has happened today," Dempsey said in a statement posted on the NCAA Web site. "Our focus is entirely on the safety of student-athletes, athletics personnel and fans. We urge schools to make sound decisions about proceeding with contests today and in the coming days."
The final decision may not rest in the hands of the NCAA. Government officials will most likely determine whether or not it is safe for teams to travel by air or if crowds from 35,000 to 100,000 should gather at football stadiums across the nation.
The NCAA has said it will comply with any executive orders issued by President Bush.
Already, two games scheduled for Thursday night have been cancelled. The Ohio-North Carolina State game has been rescheduled for Nov. 24, while no make-up date has been set for the cancelled Penn State-Virginia contest.
All Sports Stories for Wednesday, September 12, 2001