The University of Maine football team’s game against Football Bowl Subdivision foe University of Central Florida has been canceled.
UMaine officials announced late Thursday that the game, scheduled for Sept. 30 at Orlando, Florida, has been canceled due to scheduling conflicts caused by Hurricane Irma.
UMaine athletic administrator Karlton Creech said talks started Wednesday about the possibility of canceling the game and that UMaine was informed of UCF’s decision Thursday afternoon.
“It’s nothing we can control,” Creech said. “We respect and understand what Central Florida was going through and [them] already losing two games, we certainly respect their decision.”
In spite of the cancellation, Football Bowl Subdivision member Central Florida will pay UMaine the approximately $350,000 it had been guaranteed to make the trip to Orlando.
Creech said the university will receive the guarantee payment because of a buyout/cancellation clause included in game contracts with FBS institutions.
The game was to be the first of two scheduled FBS contests for the Black Bears this season. The other is a Nov. 11 meeting with former conference rival Massachusetts at Fenway Park in Boston.
“Obviously it’s disappointing, you want to play the games that are scheduled, [but] I think ourselves, the team and Karlton, we understand the situation that they’re in,” UMaine coach Joe Harasymiak said of UCF. “They have an importance to league games and we’d probably do the same thing. We have to move on.”
UCF, which plays in the American Athletic Conference, was scheduled on Sept. 9 to play conference foe Memphis in Orlando, but that game was wiped out due to the hurricane. This Saturday’s home contest against Georgia Tech also was canceled.
Now, instead of playing UMaine, the Knights will take on Memphis at home on Sept. 30. The Georgia Tech game canceled outright.
Harasymiak planned to tell his players of the news at Friday morning’s practice. And while the news is disappointing, the Black Bears are focused on their Sept. 23 road game against defending FCS national champion James Madison at Harrisonburg, Virginia.
“I think that’s really where our focus is on. We’ll just move on from there and see where it goes,” said Harasymiak.
The cancellation also puts UMaine, which is idle this weekend, in a scheduling bind that Creech is trying to resolve.
“As you can imagine, it’s really tough and there aren’t any options right now so we are actively researching that,” Creech said. “If we can find an opponent that makes sense, we would consider doing that.”
If a game cannot be scheduled, the Black Bears would be idle again on Sept. 30 before traveling to Villanova the following weekend.
“Players and coaches always want to compete and we’ll just have to manage that, but if we can’t find another game we’ll just have another off week before go down to Villanova,” Creech said.
UMaine officials intend to do everything possible to try to schedule a game.
“Kids want to play, we want to play the games. We’ll try to find another game and see what happens,” Harasymiak said.
UCF officials were thankful for UMaine’s understanding about the contest being canceled and the need to re-schedule a conference game with the Tigers.
“We owe a huge thank you to Karlton Creech and Joe Harasymiak at Maine for their helpfulness and understanding with this situation,” UCF vice president and athletic director Danny White said in a statement posted on the school website.
In the wake of the hurricane, Florida Governor Rick Scott had ordered college campuses throughout the state to shut down.
Multiple college football games across Florida, and an NFL contest between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins, were scrapped due to the devastating hurricane, which left significant damage throughout Florida.
UMaine fans who purchased tickets to the game should call the Central Florida ticket office at 407-823-1000.