Arizona Cancels Saturday Matchup Because of Weather
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Saying it didn’t want to fly in bad weather, No. 18 Arizona canceled Saturday’s game at St. Joseph’s and rejected an offer to postpone the nationally televised game.
The cancellation will mean lost revenue for both teams and for ESPN2, which had planned to broadcast the game. It is especially disappointing for the unranked Hawks, who are seeking greater national exposure.
``St. Joseph is not looking in our direction,″ St. Joseph’s athletic director Don DiJulia said Friday.
Under NCAA rules, the cancellation would not be recognized as a forfeit by the Wildcats, said Laurie Bollig, a spokeswoman for the NCAA in Kansas. The Hawks said they were not pursuing a forfeit.
DiJulia said he couldn’t put a dollar value on lost gate and TV revenue, but he said that ESPN was ``very upset″ about the cancellation. The game was to be played at the Palestra.
``They had trucks and staff on the way this morning and kept calling,″ he said. ``I told them we’re not accepting `No’ for an answer but at 1:20, Arizona called and canceled and let us know by fax shortly thereafter.″
Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood said safety was a paramount consideration in calling off the game.
``We have no way of predicting the weather conditions in Philadelphia or in Chicago (the team’s connecting point on its scheduled flight) for Saturday or Sunday, but we were concerned enough about their severity at the time we made the decision,″ Livengood said in a prepared statement.
This was supposed to be St. Joseph’s week of horror on the schedule: Sunday at No. 15 Virginia Tech, Tuesday at home with No. 1 Massachusetts and Saturday at the Palestra with Arizona.
The first game was postponed and it took the team 9 1/2 hours to get home by bus. The game against UMass, which the Hawks lost in overtime, was postponed a day by snow and now comes the Arizona cancellation. Instead of three national TV appearances, they have one loss and zero TV time.
DiJulia said Arizona called Thursday expressing concern about weather conditions. A snow and sleet storm hit the area Friday morning, but had ended by early afternoon and the airport remained open.
DiJulia said he checked Friday morning with American Airlines and was told that Arizona’s flight was on time. But the university called later and said they had ``serious issues in tracking this weather,″ he said.
``I told them I had checked with both ESPN and the Palestra and that we could play Sunday as a Plan B,″ said DiJulia. ``Apparently that didn’t matter.″
Livengood said the offer to reschedule the game on Sunday did not allay the team’s concerns about safe travel. He said Arizona was willing to reschedule the game for next season.
St. Joseph’s will seek help from the Atlantic 10 conference in possibly finding a game to fill the open schedule slot, said DiJulia.