Football Decision Pushed Back to Thursday

Sept. 12, 2001

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State will announce a decision on canceling or rescheduling Saturday's home football game against Montana State on Thursday afternoon, OSU athletic director Mitch Barnhart said early Wednesday evening.

'We're still searching through some things,' Barnhart said. 'We thought we'd have an answer by 5:30 or 6 o'clock tonight. We're still seeking out more information from a couple of different places, working through some details on a lot of different possibilities. We have had conversations about continuing to play this game this weekend, and that is still among the possibilities.'

Rescheduling the game - set for 3:30 p.m. at Reser Stadium in Corvallis - would be difficult to work out. Montana State is a Division I-AA school and the national playoffs at that level begin November 24, after this weekend, the Bobcats and/or Beavers have games scheduled each Saturday up through November 17.

'We have looked at every conceivable way to move this game to the benefit of both teams' schedules, competitively as well as the logistics for our fans - there are not a lot of ways to move that game,' Barnhart said. 'So we're left with a couple of alternatives. One of them is to play this weekend in some way, shape or form, the other is to cancel the game.

'There are a couple of decision points we have to get to in the next 12 to 18 hours, part of those are travel-related, part of those are safety-related. Obviously, we have a deep concern with where our country is going and the issues we're facing as a country right now.'Barnhart said the nation's grief after Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the East Coast was of utmost concern in making the decision.

'We also feel we have a responsibility to our program and how we manage that,' Barnhart said. 'There are a lot of implications for us, but our program is certainly not of greater concern than that of the country. So we are weighing a lot of things at this time.'

A conference call among state and national leaders Thursday morning could provide some of the information OSU officials are seeking to aid them in making their decision. Also, information from the NCAA and a call among conference commissioners might help Oregon State in weighing its choices.

'At this point in time, we'd rather make a more educated decision, and we think another 12 to 18 hours will buy us that time to at least consider all the information we're receiving,' Barnhart said.

Barnhart has been in contact with Glen Lewis, the interim athletic director at Montana State. MSU is having similar discussions among Lewis, Bobcat head football coach Mike Kramer and President Dr. Geofrey Gamble.

'They are prepared to talk about the possibilities of playing this weekend,' Barnhart said. 'We've also talked about the possibility of canceling this weekend. Those conversations will be going on through the night with Glen, his staff and his football coach.

'It's not an easy decision. It's not something we're taking lightly. Certainly, it's not something we've ever seen before in my career or anyone else's, and it's something I hope we don't have to see again.'

Monday is out as a possible day to play the game because Montana State plays its home-opener Sept. 22 against Cal Poly. Barnhart was asked about the chance of playing Sunday.

'We haven't had that conversation yet,' Barnhart said. 'We're looking at a lot of things right now, and that's certainly one of the possibilities. It's not been ruled out.'

Barnhart was asked how difficult the decision has been.

'My day is nothing compared to what they're going through in New York,' Barnhart said. 'We've got to put it in perspective. Is it a difficult process to go through? Certainly. Is it as difficult as losing a loved one in the tragedy? No way. So my day is pretty easy compared to what they're going through.

'Having said that, it's not an easy decision. There are a lot of things on both sides of the coin that you wrestle with. Our obligation to this program is a strong one, to not have this game would have some severe effects for us and we need to be aware of that.'

The Pacific-10 Conference on Tuesday announced that all athletic competition between conference members was called off through this coming weekend, but left non-conference competition up to individual schools. Washington State has made the decision to play Colorado this weekend in Pullman, Wash., because those two schools' football schedules also presented problems in finding another date to make up the game.

'They made the decision to play the game and worked out the details to get that done,' Barnhart said. 'We're struggling with some of those details, and whether we want to follow through with that process or not. Our University administration has been incredibly supportive in having conversations about where we're going here, so I'm appreciative of the way our conversations have been going through Provost Tim White and President (Paul G.) Risser and (Vice President) Rob Specter and some of the people in our University.

'They're spending good time, and as much time as we have, to make that decision. We're going to have to get to a point here pretty quickly where we go or not. There are two or three major things we've got to work our way through to see if we're going to go.'

Conferences deciding to play their league games and non-league home games this weekend - with a few exceptions - include the Southeastern, Big Ten, Big 12, Mid-American, Conference USA, Mountain West and Western Athletic, according to an ESPN report on Wednesday afternoon. Other schools - including Michigan, which is to play Western Michigan this weekend - are also still deciding whether or not to play.

'They're still waiting for further information and struggling with some of the same kind of issues we are,' Barnhart said. 'There are a couple of things out there we need to be very clear on ... I don't know that you'll ever get in a comfort zone on this thing, but there is a comfort level that everyone wants to have to make sure that we make an educated decision.'

OSU has open dates on Nov. 17 and Nov. 24 prior to the Civil War at Oregon on Dec. 1, and Barnhart was asked about hooking up on one of those dates with another team having rescheduling problems.

'There are some possibilities there, but most of those people are not canceling - they're rescheduling,' Barnhart said. 'That's the challenge there. We're in a unique situation in that our opponent is trying to get into the Division I-AA playoffs.'

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