South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said state officials are unable to work the University of South Carolina’s game vs. Georgia because of South Carolina’s state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
“What we have informed USC is we will not be able to give any state support for that game,” Haley said at a Wednesday news conference via the Post and Courier. “I can’t take troopers off the road to go put them at a football game. If they do that, they would be working with the Richland County sheriff’s office to get that done.”
The hurricane is expected to be off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday and the game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening. The state declared a state of emergency earlier in the week and classes have been canceled for the rest of the week at USC.
The Richland County Sheriff told The State the department could handle staffing for the game, including traffic direction and security.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said his agency along with the Columbia Police Department and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department have contingency plans to include using school resource officers as well as officers who are in training at the state police academy to handle game traffic and stadium security.
“There won’t be any lack of security at the game whenever it’s held,” Lott said.
South Carolina associate athletic director Charles Bloom said Wednesday afternoon on 107.5 FM that the there was a “minimal” chance the game would be moved outside of Columbia and that the school would consider moving the game to Sunday or Monday if necessary depending on the storm.
“In a perfect world, you want the game to be played as it’s scheduled,” Bloom said in the on-air interview. “You plan on that until you can’t. We talk about a moving target. Do we have enough police? Can we get the teams in here? Are we risking safety of our fans getting to the stadium? How’s the weather going to look at kickoff?
“If you look at our goals, you hope you can play in Columbia, that’s the No. 1. You don’t want to move it to another venue. We went through that last year. We would rather not do it again this year, so our focus is having the game in Columbia.
“And then you look at, okay, scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 and you want to make sure that we can have that game. You look at, if you can’t have it at 7:30, when can you play it? If you look at scenarios, playing around with dates and times, outside of that 7:30 Saturday is something that you have to look at.”
Florida is scheduled to host LSU at noon on Saturday and UF said Wednesday afternoon a final decision on the game would be made by 1 p.m. Thursday. The school also said the game would not be played anywhere other than in Gainesville. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said that the conference wanted to attempt to play games as scheduled.
The track of the hurricane is slated to go up the Florida coast and prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to say Wednesday afternoon the state’s evacuation of residents could be its biggest ever.
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