Former Texas deep snapper Nate Boyer (37) carries an American flag as the Longhorns take to the field against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on October 13, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. The Longhorns and Sooners are expected to be among the top teams in the 2018 Big 12 race. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Football

FROM THE ARCHIVES (Sept. 12, 2001): The day the games stopped

Posted September 12th, 2001

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Terrorist attacks in New York and Washington triggered a wave of cancellations of sporting events Tuesday, from major-league baseball games to local volleyball contests. But a resolve to go on also emerged in the sports world, the wish and will to continue with life’s routines even in the face of such unimaginable tragedy.

“This is a struggle for everyone, ” said Karen Sperry, executive assistant to Pat Forgione, superintendent of the Austin Independent School District. “This is Oklahoma City times 10. What is the appropriate response?”

At the NFL offices in New York City, the decision on whether to cancel Sunday’s games will be made today. In some places, action had to be taken even more quickly.

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The Round Rock Express, which is playing the Arkansas Travelers in the Texas League championship series, announced that the third game, which was scheduled for Tuesday night at Round Rock, was postponed. The team said it would offer more details on possible resumption of the series later.

At the AISD office, the first inclination was to continue with the scheduled athletic events, mostly high school volleyball and middle-school football games.

“We wanted the students to have the advantage of a routine, ” Sperry said.

But then phones began to ring at high schools. Other school districts began canceling games. AISD officials decided they would, too.

“We didn’t want to be insensitive, ” Sperry said.

At Texas A&M University, head football coach R.C. Slocum canceled practice and said, “I felt this was the appropriate course of action to take regarding today’s events.”

But he was the only Big 12 coach to do so. At the University of Texas, which held a shortened practice, Coach Mack Brown explained, “We discussed the possibility of not practicing, but wanted to get them back into a routine.”.

“We met for 30 minutes before practice and there was hurt, anger and obviously some confusion, ” Brown said.

UT’s practice was part of university President Larry Faulkner’s mandate to continue with business as usual.

“He thought it was the proper thing to do, to keep classes open and the university functioning. He wanted to make it as normal a day as possible, ” said Don Hale, UT vice president for public affairs.

UT does not have a football game until Sept. 22 at Houston.

“My assumption is we’re going to play the game, ” said UT Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has left it to member schools and conferences to decide whether to play.

Three Thursday night college football games — Texas Tech at the University of Texas-El Paso, Penn State at Virginia and Ohio University at North Carolina State — were postponed. Texas Tech’s game tentatively has been rescheduled for Saturday night.

Tuesday afternoon, Ohio State University became one of the first to postpone its Saturday football game, against visiting San Diego State. Washington’s game at Miami was also postponed. The Pacific 10 Conference voted to postpone all conference competition through the weekend. Arizona State and No. 14 UCLA had been scheduled to play Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.

Big 12 member Oklahoma State was one of the quickest to announce its intention to play this weekend, against Northern Arizona.

“The more normal you can become, the quicker you can do it, it’s better, ” said Steve Buzzard, the school’s associate athletic director.

Oklahoma State suffered a tragedy earlier this year, when on Jan. 27, a plane crash killed 10 people, including two OSU basketball players.

“We’ve talked to them (Northern Arizona), and there was some concern over flying in here. We’re considering alternative transportation, ” Buzzard said.

UT associate athletic director Chris Plonsky said, “We’re dealing with young people who could have some trepidation about traveling.”

Plonsky was part of a conference call among representatives from Big 12 schools. They delayed making any decisions about upcoming football games until today, although most Tuesday and Wednesday volleyball and soccer matches were postponed.

Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg said, “We need to understand the transportation and security issues better . . . If putting people together in a large setting is not advisable, it would certainly color our judgment on whether Saturday’s games would be played.”

Baylor University plans to fly by charter plane to Minneapolis on Friday for a Saturday football game with the University of Minnesota.

Baylor Athletic Director Tom Stanton said, “While our thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured or who lost loved ones in these attacks, we also realize that it would be good for all of us to continue with as many scheduled events as possible in order to help with the healing process. We’ll take our cue from President Bush and his leadership on whether these other events proceed as scheduled.”

Weiberg said postponed games could be rescheduled around Thanksgiving or the first week in December. Cancellations could raise some thorny issues, including qualifying for various bowls.

“We haven’t talked about that to this point. We’ve just been stunned by the turn of events and haven’t focused on those kinds of issues, ” Weiberg said.

‘A sad, sad day’

In Dallas, the Cowboys had a scheduled day off, but Coach Dave Campo canceled his regularly scheduled news conference and Emmitt Smith did the same with his Tuesday conference concerning his fund-raising campaign to help the nation’s schools.

The Cowboys are supposed to play the Lions in Detroit on Sunday.

“We will proceed with normal activity here until the NFL tells us otherwise, ” said Rich Dalrymple, the Cowboys’ director of public relations.

The PGA Tour canceled Thursday’s starts of the American Express Championship in St. Louis and two other tournaments.

PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem said the American Express Championship, featuring Tiger Woods and top players from tours around the world, would begin Friday with 36 holes.

“This is a sad, sad day in America, ” Woods said after playing a practice round, which he began about two hours before the initial attack on the World Trade Center.

Golfer Ernie Els of South Africa was dumbstruck.

“I don’t understand how these guys can even hit balls, ” he said, pointing toward the practice range. “What are they thinking?”

With air traffic shut down across the country, several golfers were unable to get to St. Louis. Among those stranded were PGA champion David Toms, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III.

Mickelson’s private airplane was among those planes diverted to Austin when the Federal Aviation Administration halted all air traffic Tuesday morning. Mickelson would not say where the plane was headed when it was forced to land in Austin. He was scrambling to rent a car, which were in short supply after many commercial passengers had already reserved cars to drive on to their destinations.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig made the decision to cancel Tuesday’s games about 3 1/2 hours after the attacks in New York.

It was the first time since D-Day on June 6, 1944, that major-league baseball postponed a full schedule of regular-season games.

Selig, meanwhile, also called off the owners’ quarterly meeting that was set to start Tuesday. He did not make any decisions about today’s games.

Home-run leader Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants were set to begin a three-game series against the Astros in Houston on Tuesday night. The Texas Rangers were scheduled to be in Oakland for the second of a four-game series.

“I will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and make ongoing decisions accordingly, ” Selig said. “My deepest sympathy and prayers go out to the families and victims of this horrendous series of events.”

ESPN announcer Ron Franklin said, “I’m going to be surprised if anybody plays this weekend. Obviously there are more important matters.”

Franklin had been scheduled to fly to Tallahassee, Fla., on Thursday for a game Saturday between Florida State and Georgia Tech.

Six Big 12 volleyball matches, including Texas at Texas Tech, were canceled today.

Across Central Texas, approximately 50 high school football games are scheduled this weekend. School districts have not announced if those games will be postponed.

Elsewhere across the nation, baseball’s minor leagues postponed playoff games in all nine leagues that were to play Tuesday.

The International, Pacific Coast, Eastern, Southern, Texas, California, Florida State, Midwest and South Atlantic leagues were affected.

In NASCAR, qualifying Friday for the New Hampshire 300 was canceled.

The Swiss-based International Olympic Committee expressed a “profound sense of shock and disbelief” at the attacks. The 2002 Winter Olympics are to be held in Salt Lake City in February.

IOC President Jacques Rogge expressed “deepest sympathy” to the families of the victims and sent letters of condolence to President Bush, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee.

You may contact John Maher at jmaher@statesman.com or (512) 445-3956. Staff writers Randy Riggs, Cedric Golden, Gary Estwick, Suzanne Halliburton, Olin Buchanan and Mark Rosner contributed to this story.

This article includes material from The Associated Press.

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