South Carolina cancels game vs. Marshall as Hurricane Florence approaches state


South Carolina has canceled Saturday’s scheduled game against Marshall with forecasts now placing the state in the probable path of Hurricane Florence.

“Whether or not the game could have been played, we made the decision we think is best for the state and those who are evacuating the coast,” South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner said. “There is no question this is the right thing to do and the decision was supported by President Pastides, Coach Muschamp, our board members and myself.”

South Carolina said it will look for an opportunity to play a 12th game later in the season.

“Marshall Athletics Director Mike Hamrick and I have been in constant contact throughout the week about the game,” Tanner said. “We are in total agreement that this is the correct decision.”

The university noted that cancelling the game will free up hotel rooms for evacuees and allow emergency personnel to be used in areas affected by the storm.

On Tuesday, the West Virginia-North Carolina State, East Carolina-Virginia Tech and UCF-North Carolina games scheduled for Saturday also were canceled.

Virginia Tech (No. 13), West Virginia (No. 14) and UCF (No. 18) are all ranked in the top 25 heading into Week 3 action.

The Tennessee Volunteers host UTEP on Saturday and the school is offering free tickets to displaced residents of North Carolina and South Carolina. Residents of counties under evacuation orders may claim tickets on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturday morning after showing a state-issued ID from either state.

While not hosting events this weekend, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are all making their campgrounds available for evacuees fleeing the storm. Evacuees will have access to restroom and shower facilities on site at each track.

More than 5.4 million people live in areas now under hurricane warnings or watches on the U.S. East Coast, according to the National Weather Service. Another 4 million people are under a tropical storm watch. Assorted bad weather advisories stretched from Florida to Maine on Tuesday evening.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. He said the federal government is “absolutely, totally prepared” for Florence. All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast.

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the storm was centered 435 miles (700 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving at 16 mph (26 kph). It’s a potentially catastrophic Category 3 storm with 125 mph (205 kph) maximum sustained winds.

Some fluctuations in strength are expected through Thursday morning. Florence will weaken once it stops drawing energy from warm ocean waters, but it’s still expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday as an extremely dangerous major hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center says a buoy about 100 miles northeast of Florence’s eye has clocked hurricane-force wind gusts and sustained winds of 53 mph (85 kph).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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