The Michigan Athletic Department yesterday announced that tomorrow”s home football game against Western Michigan will not be played. There was no immediate makeup date, and if the two teams can not find a time to reschedule the game, the game will be canceled.
Michigan has not postponed a football game since Nov. 23, 1963, the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Numerous other campus events have also been canceled, including today”s fifth annual Fun Run with University President Lee Bollinger, this weekend”s Law School reunion and all events planned for this weekend”s Michigan Basketball Reunion.
Updated information on additional cancellations is available at www.umich.edu.
Yesterday”s decision to cancel the football game came one day after the seniors on the team voted to play. But ultimately, the Athletic Department decided that it was too soon.
“Coach Carr got the senior leadership together yesterday to see what they wanted to do, and they decided that playing would be the best way to show that terrorism will not dictate how we do things,” Athletic Director Bill Martin said.
“We are sensitive, however, to the concerns we have heard from those who feel a strong need to signal our respect in the most public way we have available to us.”
The cancellation marks the beginning of heightened safety precautions for Michigan sporting events. Martin would not say specifically what changes will be made except that Michigan Stadium will no longer be open to the public except on game days.
Although each home football game brings in about $3.5 million from ticket sales, there is the possibility that tomorrow”s game will not be rescheduled because Western already has games scheduled on both of Michigan”s bye weeks. In addition, the Athletic Department is reluctant to play after the Ohio State game, which is typically the last game of the season.
Rescheduling after Ohio State “is a possibility, but we really want to avoid scheduling after Ohio State and we want our kids to focus on studies before finals and the bowl trip,” Martin said.
All games involving Big Ten teams are off this weekend, although the conference did not officially tell its members to cancel them.
“Every institution in the Big Ten made up its own mind,” Martin said.
The Big 12, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Big East and Pac-10 conferences all cleared this weekend”s schedules.
A total of 54 games involving Division I-A teams were postponed this weekend and four more were canceled. The games that definitely won”t be made up later in the season are Navy at Northwestern, Bowling Green at South Carolina, Marshall at TCU and Appalachian State at Troy State.
The NFL canceled this week”s games as well.
“We know each university has struggled to return to normalcy as one concrete symbol that terrorism does not prevail,” Bollinger said in a written statement. “Michigan Stadium will remain dark this Saturday as we pay tribute to all those lives missing and lost in this week”s tragic events, some of whom we are learning to be our friends, relatives, colleagues, and alumni.”
Bollinger was back in Ann Arbor yesterday after being stranded in New York City during Tuesday”s attacks on the city, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said. He was in New York along with University Musical Society Director Ken Fischer to discuss the University”s relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“He got a car and he was driving back last night,” Peterson said. “He”s fine, and he wasn”t in Manhattan so he wasn”t right in the middle of things.”
Martin did not rule out the possibility of scheduling another opponent to replace Western Michigan, but the school”s athletic director, Kathy Beauregard, said in a written statement that “both institutions will make every effort to reschedule the game.”
“I agree with the decision,” Western Michigan offensive tackle Matt Stover said in a written statement. “It puts football in its proper perspective.”
Michigan is planning to resume its schedule next week, when it opens the Big Ten season with Illinois.