Why is Clemson playing as hurricane approaches? Clemson AD speaks out
|Thursday, September 13, 2018, 11:21 AM- -|
As the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia prepare for this week’s arrival of Hurricane Florence, college football contests across the region have either been moved or canceled. That includes Clemson’s home game against Georgia Southern, which was scheduled for 3:30 pm Saturday but was pushed back to noon, and plans are still in place for the game to proceed.
The University of South Carolina canceled its home game against Marshall, and Furman canceled its home game against Colgate. Athletic Director Dan Radakovich said early Thursday that Clemson looked at all of the information available, including the timing of the storm’s arrival, before making the decision to play.
“First and foremost, we want to make sure that safety is at the top of the list for our fans, our student-athletes and all of the citizens of the state of South Carolina,” Radakovich told Mark Packer on Packer’s radio show on SiriusXM. “We certainly hope that this storm doesn't do the damage that maybe it's anticipating right now. Here in the Upstate of South Carolina, we've been monitoring what effects it may have here in Clemson. We moved the game time from 3:30 to noon to make sure that everybody would have ample time to get back to wherever their homestead is after the game prior to what we understand at this current time to be whatever effects we have late Saturday and early Sunday morning. That's the information we have received.
“As late as 10 minutes ago, we were on with the folks who run our emergency preparedness information here on campus, and we will continue to monitor this situation throughout the day today and tomorrow. It's been such an interesting week. I had to make sure today was Thursday because all of the days seem to run together. Our campus, our law enforcement in the local area, our emergency preparedness have been in constant communication over the last 72 hours. At this point and time, all signs point toward a noon kickoff on Saturday.”
Georgia Southern will bus in from Statesboro, Ga., a trip of fewer than 200 miles, and Radakovich said the close distance between the two schools allowed for the decision to be made later than other schools.
“Absolutely. That has been a real positive as it relates to getting the decision made as late as possible. If there was an airplane flight involved, that's a whole different ballgame,” Radakovich said. “We've been in contact with Georgia Southern, and I'm sure we'll continue to speak today as things continue to develop. Hopefully, the forecast will stay as it is right now and we'll continue to play the game. The fact that they aren't far away and they're using bus transportation to come up here and coming from the south up to our area north of their campus is also a positive. That has given us the gift of time.”
He was then asked if the game could still be called off.
“At this point, that has not come forward,” Radakovich said. “I can't say within the next 24 hours with things changing that we wouldn't go into that direction, but from where we are and all of the information we've been able to gather through the weather services and emergency preparedness, the effects of that storm won't really hit the Upstate and when it does it looks like it's going to be a significant rain event that won't happen until Sunday. That's all the information we've been able to get at this time, and that's been the basis of our decision making up to now.”
The noon start time allows fans to begin the trek home and cleaning crews to get inside the stadium before the worst of the storm hits.
“The three hours we thought was very important because there's a lot of stuff that happens after the game as well,” Radakovich said. “There is a large cleaning crew that comes in and cleans up afterward, so if you play the game at 3:30, you'll be moving closer to where we may see issues with the storm so by moving it up, our fans can come - I don't know that they'll linger as the sometimes do for an early game - but that will give us an opportunity to get the stadium and the campus clean before we get that rain event late Saturday night and Sunday morning.”
This is familiar territory for Radakovich and Clemson – the Tigers played Notre Dame in the rain in 2015 and dealt with storm issues against both Auburn and Georgia Tech last season.
“The Notre Dame game and then last year for Auburn. While our weather was great, there were some difficult things happening in other parts of the state,” he said. “As we look at our traffic flow, that was diminished from a resource perspective as well. We've had a number of time where we wouldn't have the full complement of folks out on the highways helping people get in, but our fanbase has been fantastic. When we tell them that patience is needed today because of these other issues that you know are going on around you, they heed that advice.
“We ask them to come early, and they heed that advice. We have the greatest fans in the country and I think that moving this game up, they all want to see the game, they all want to see us play, they all want to be here on campus, but they all understand that we have their safety in mind and that's why we've moved the game up. We want it to be a great environment, but we also want it to be a safe environment. What we learned at Notre Dame, Georgia Tech last year, Auburn last year, we continue to utilize those lessons as we move ahead.”