Weekend games postponed after further review

by Brian Hall

A day after athletics directors in both the men’s and women’s departments at the University decided to “go forward” with all scheduled sporting events this weekend there has been a change of heart.

In the wake of the terrorist acts on the East Coast, the University announced Thursday afternoon it has decided to postpone or cancel all events originally set for this weekend.

Events not taking place are Saturday night’s football game against Baylor at the Metrodome, two soccer games, a volleyball tournament, men’s and women’s cross country meets, and a women’s golf invitational.

Men’s athletics director Tom Moe and women’s athletics director Chris Voelz said there were a number of factors that led to the change. The cancellation of NFL games this weekend wasn’t a major one.

“We were concerned with the same issues (Wednesday) as we’re concerned with (Thursday),” Moe said. “There were travel issues, logistics issues. I am sure there was rethinking of attitudes on certain subjects (at every school across the country). They were so many different situations involved.”

Moe and Voelz stood behind their decision not to participate in athletic events this weekend, but both agreed playing would have been a way to move forward.

“Gut feeling is that there is no right or wrong thing to do,” Voelz said. “Everybody is allowed their own opinion. You can never express your sadness enough.”

Added Moe: “This is a subject and question that is so difficult. It’s clear that all of us considering this issue were greatly impacted and influenced by our concerns for the victims. But at the same time there is also the question of how you move forward as a country.

“There was a feeling that athletic competition along with other activities should be resumed to send a message.”

The resumption of sports will have to wait until next Wednesday for the Gophers, when the volleyball team travels to Iowa. But for Minnesota’s football team, it will be two more weeks before a game can be played.

The Gophers have a bye week before hosting Purdue on Sept. 29. The University is treating the Baylor game as a postponement, but a make-up might not be played.

The earliest open Saturday the two schools could meet is Dec. 1, but that interferes with the Big 12 championship.

Football coach Glen Mason said he will address the concern of not playing for a three-week stretch on Monday, when the Gophers return to practice. For now, he is just trying to wind down from a hectic week.

“I struggled with the tragedy this week,” Mason said. “You have to try and focus the best you can, and set yourself on the game at hand, and convince yourself that (playing) is the right thing to do. (Not playing) is more of a letdown that a disappointment.”

While the football team was scheduled to play at home on Saturday, the men’s cross country team was the lone Gophers team set to travel away from campus this weekend.

Men’s cross country coach Steve Plasencia was preparing to board a flight with 12 runners for Ogden, Utah, for the Brigham Young Invitational. Plasencia said travel wasn’t an issue.

“We were ready to go either way,” Plasencia said. “There was no reaction from the guys’ parents at all. But before we decided not to go, the meet fell apart down there.”

As for the student-athletes themselves, Voelz said many of them wanted to play as a way to divert from the tragedy. But Gophers football player Travis Cole said not playing is probably the best thing to do.

“I would like to play,” Cole said. “But at the same time we have to look out for the families and all the people who are suffering.”

While athletics at Minnesota will resume soon, the suffering across the country may take longer to subside.