GAINESVILLE, Fla. — LSU and Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva got their wish.
Florida’s game with LSU, which was postponed last Saturday due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew, will be made up Nov. 19 and will now be played in Baton Rouge, La., instead of Gainesville. No game time has been announced.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who will hold a news conference at 7 p.m., made his frustrations known in a statement released along with the news Thursday evening.
“We made this decision to play the game in Baton Rouge,” Foley said in a statement. “The conference office asked us to find a solution in working with LSU, yet LSU was never a true partner in our discussions. The Southeastern Conference offered some other solutions and the LSU administration made it clear that they were unwilling to consider other reasonable options.”
Under SEC Commissioner Regulations, only teams that play all eight conference games would be eligible to play in Atlanta for the SEC Championship, the news released stated, noting that had the game not been rescheduled Florida and LSU would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season.
LSU will buy-out a non-conference game with South Alabama on that date and Florida will do the same for a scheduled game with FCS foe Presbyterian.
Alleva had been steadfast in his comments this week that he would not give up a home game on Nov. 19 to come to Gainesville as he felt the Tigers offered ample solutions to get the game played before the postponement.
So instead Florida will be losing two home games — the one scheduled for last weekend in Gainesville and the Nov. 19 date.
LSU will now visit Gainesville in 2017 and 2018.
“It was important for us to come to a resolution,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “Each university had its own set of concerns throughout this process, however existing SEC regulations did not provide an avenue to resolve conflicting issues in a more timely manner. As I have repeatedly said, this game needed to be played. In the end, I want to give credit to the University of Florida for making concessions to move this year’s game to Baton Rouge.”
The SEC’s official release added that the conference’s presidents and chancellors expect to review the existing policy “to better define the process for completing postponed or interrupted contests and to grant authority to the Commissioner to determine the date and location of future games that may need to be rescheduled if the two involved institutions cannot mutually identify a date.”
Insurance payouts from the SEC, along with other financial incentives, will cover Florida’s revenue lost from the games that will not be played this year in Gainesville, the school’s news release said.
Florida and the SEC had both faced criticism in the wake of the postponement, especially as the weather cleared last weekend in Gainesville. Foley had stated in his news conference at the time of the postponement that the university was not going to be able to secure the security and emergency personnel needed to host an event the size of an SEC football game as first responders would be tied up elsewhere in the state. He also said it would not be possible to arrange a trip for a 150-plus people on such short notice to play the game elsewhere.
Gators coach Jim McElwain had been irked by the notion that his team was trying to dodge a game and didn’t understand how critics could be callous to the threat of a hurricane and how that weighed on players with families in the affected areas.
Florida’s news release Thursday included a quote from McElwain, saying “As I’ve said all along — we will play anyone, anywhere, anytime. I think I’ve made that pretty clear. The Gators never run from anyone or dodge anyone.”
According to the release, the game will be played no later than 3:30 p.m. ET, and Florida fans who wish to purchase tickets will be able to do so at a discounted price through the Gator Ticket office. Details will be announced at a later date.
Season ticket holders with tickets to the 2016 LSU and Presbyterian games will have their ticket money from each game applied as a credit towards their 2017 season ticket costs, or the can receive a refund. The deadline to request the refund will be Friday, Oct. 28.