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When the dust settles

Connor Doyle

Thursday September 13, 2001

How the Pac-10's postponements will affect UA and the rest of the conference

Headline Photo

Dave Rubio, UA head volleyball coach

Headline Photo

Jim Livengood, UA athletic director

Headline Photo

John Mackovic, UA head football coach

As the dust settles from the largest terrorist attack in American history, the sports world finds itself in a strange situation - figuring out exactly what the role of athletic competition should be during this tragedy.

While most of the professional leagues are making the decision as a whole, collegiate sports are encountering a much trickier situation. During the regular season, the NCAA does not mandate scheduling situations, and the conferences have found themselves holding the decision as to whether or not their teams will compete.

As it stands in college football, the Pacific 10 Conference is one of the only major conferences to unilaterally postpone all in-conference games and matches where the hosting team is in the Pac-10.

The only other two conferences in the nation to postpone their games are the Big East Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference. The Southeastern, Big Ten, Big 12, Mid-American, Conference USA, Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences have all decided to continue as scheduled this weekend, with a few exceptions made due to the inability to travel.

The dissention among the ranks could cause some problems for teams that are in contention for national titles, as the loss of a game on the schedule or the moving of it to a later date may hurt their national standings. As has been proven in the past, wins and losses late in the season are seen as more important than those coming earlier in the eyes of voters.

This weekend's game between No. 13 Washington of the Pac-10 and No. 1 Miami (Fla.) of the Big East was supposed to play top-bill this weekend, but the game has been postponed. Also, Pac-10 teams No. 22 Oregon State, No. 14 UCLA, Arizona State and Washington State had games that have been postponed. Four other games nationwide have been put on hold as well.

Even in the cases of ASU and WSU - which are not considered contenders - the loss of a game may have a detrimental effect on their chances of attaining a bowl bid, as both are undefeated through their first two games.

The UA had a bye this week.

Pac-10 may cancel one game altogether

Pac-10 assistant commissioner Jim Muldoon said yesterday that everything possible is being done to ensure that the postponed games will be rescheduled, or somehow played this weekend.

"Right now, we have one in-conference game and three non-conference games postponed" Muldoon said. "There are opportunities to reschedule two games (UCLA vs. Arizona State, and Washington vs. Miami). The two other games, Colorado at Washington St. and Montana St. vs. Oregon St., Ě there's no place to replay them. There are no dates available."

Muldoon said the two games that cannot be rescheduled may have to be played this weekend or cancelled completely.

"(The two games) are in effect cancelled unless we can play them this weekend," Muldoon said. "I know they're trying to (get everything arranged). Colorado has told Washington State they think they can get there by charter. Montana State at Oregon State is a different story. We don't know what will happen there."

The major stumbling block with the game at Oregon State is the playoff system in place for the Big Sky Conference, of which Montana State is a member.

The playoffs will begin the week after Montana State's last game of the regular season, leaving no opportunity for the game to be made up.

Furthermore, the money that the two schools would lose from a cancellation is a concern. Oregon State will be unable to reap the benefit of the revenues from ticket sales (the game was expected to sell-out), and Montana State will lose out on its most profitable game of the year, should they not make a bowl.

Other UA teams embroiled in scheduling battles

Football is not the only sport that will be affected by the NCAA's decision.

The UA women's volleyball team, currently No. 3 in the nation, will be missing two road matches against conference rivals Stanford and California.

While both of these games would have had a significant impact on the early-season Pac-10 race, head coach Dave Rubio said standings were the least of his concerns.

"I don't even look at (the postponements) that way," he said. "I think it's the best decision, the appropriate decision, because of the events. It's so much larger than the sport itself."

Much like in football, many of the other conferences will be keeping their volleyball schedules. Rubio said he would have preferred all the conferences come to the same conclusion as the Pac-10.

"Personally, my opinion is that we need to take a step back," Rubio said. "I think that all sports are insignificant in comparison to the tragedy in this country. I think it would be appropriate for all athletics to take the weekend off."

UA athletic director Jim Livengood - who played a role in the Pac-10's decision to postpone the games - said that how the schedule changes affect UA teams' standings should remain the least of anyone's concerns.

"I believe we're doing the right thing (by postponing games) - not to say that the other conferences are wrong," Livengood said. "Our first concern was the appropriateness of playing. Secondly, we have some mechanisms that we can use to address the scheduling issues. We have to be very careful about not looking ahead. The rankings after three weeks are unimportant. All of that will take of care of itself."

The UA soccer team was also affected by the Pac-10's decision to cancel. They had two road games scheduled this weekend, but assistant coach Melissa Estrada said no one on the team had a problem with the postponements.

"I'm happy with the decision," Estrada said. "Our kids have to feel comfortable, and to travel would make us feel nervous. They feel that what's going on with the country is more important than soccer."

   - Lindsey Manroel contributed to this report.


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