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Katrina's affect on SunBelt games


Katrina's affect on SunBelt games

Katrina could force alterations for weekend game plans

By Andy Gardiner and Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY

College athletics administrators in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama this morning will begin assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and deciding whether they can play a long weekend of season-opening football games scheduled to begin Thursday.

Katrina's 100-plus mph winds Monday tore away pieces of the roof of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, home field for the NFL's Saints and Tulane University. The Saints flew to California on Sunday in preparation for a preseason game Thursday against Oakland and are not scheduled to play at the Superdome until Sept. 18.

The Saints evacuated to San Antonio last September when Hurricane Ivan threatened New Orleans.

"With the experience we went through last year there was considerably less chaos than there might have been," general manager Mickey Loomis said.

Tulane, which postponed the start of classes from Thursday to Sept. 7, bused the football team to Jackson, Miss., on Sunday. The Green Wave open Sunday at Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. But Jackson was struck by high winds and was without power Monday while Hattiesburg also was lashed by 100 mph winds and flooding rain, closing the school indefinitely.

Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower and Tulane coach Chris Scelfo were unable to participate in Conference USA's weekly teleconference Monday.

"We've got lots and lots and lots ? I could say lots all day and it would not be enough ? of damage," Forrest County emergency management center deputy director Beth Johnson told the Hattiesburg American.

Games in jeopardy because of storm damage begin Thursday with Jacksonville at Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State at Louisiana-Monroe. Saturday, North Texas is at LSU, Murray State at Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee at Alabama.

"We're just going to try to make it through the night and see what we find (this morning)," said Mississippi State spokesman Mike Nemeth. "We'll have a better picture then of what we're dealing with in terms of damage."

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