ASU-LSU Game Moves To Tempe

With Baton Rouge acting as a major evacuation center for the victims of hurricane Katrina, the logistics of hosting the Sun Devils for their contest against the Tigers were not in place. Thus, officials from both Arizona State University and Louisiana State University agreed that the game will be moved to Tempe, with all profits being donated to the victims of this enormous natural disaster.

Tom Collins, ASU's Senior Associate Athletic Director, headed an Arizona State delegation to Baton Rouge on Sunday. "When you drive through it, it looks normal, They have been under a lot of stress and you can tell that they have been up for a long time," he said. "They are dealing with a major crisis at the university right now, and it became apparent to us the first time we drove through it that hotel rooms are a problem down there. They have evacuees in the hotels and relief workers in the hotel that was supposed to be our host hotel." ASU had reserved 123 rooms for this game.

"I was concerned as an ASU administrator about bringing a football team in there," Collins continued. "The people at LSU are working really hard and are not doing their normal jobs right now. They are helping their fellow state citizens, and it has been a monumental effort. We just want to help them through it and we have reached out as much as we can to do that."

Collins assured that the 2008 game between both teams will be played as scheduled in Tempe, and that talks are underway between both schools to have ASU visit LSU in Baton Rouge following the 2008 season. He portrayed the game this coming Saturday as a neutral site contest. "LSU will be the home team," he explained. "We are taking their game so it will be SEC officials. But this will be an asterisk game. This game is not considered a part of the home-and-home series. It is a separate game."

The Tigers are known to have a strong following everywhere they play, which raised the natural question of how many LSU fans was ASU expecting in the stands of Sun Devil stadium? "We've been talking to LSU all day long trying to help them to bring their pep band out here," Collins commented. "We've been working with America West to flip our charter so that they can bring their team out here. And we've been getting them hotel reservations lined up for them. These are the kind of details, along with ticket details, that we have been working on today." On Tuesday, LSU officials will indicate to ASU if they'll be arriving in the valley Thursday or Friday.

The Fiesta Bowl has volunteered to help secure lodgings for the LSU team, and has offered to pay for all their meals while in Tempe. This will help with game associated expenses, which can help with a bigger profit figure, that could be in excess of a million dollars, that will aid the hurricane victims.

Collins indicated that the Sun Devil delegation in Baton Rouge, had expressed its concerns while there, with Tigers' officials. "The hotel issue was the major one," he explained. "It was the first place we went when we got there. They had evacuees there and the governor has issued orders that neither evacuees or people working with the recovery effort can be displaced from their hotels. We didn't feel it was fair to all the people that were in there, the evacuees or all the people working to restore the power."

To LSU's credit, they did realize after talking to the ASU delegation that the Sun Devils had reservations about coming down to Baton Rouge and play. "They are going through a fluid situation down there where things are changing in their neck of the woods every day," Collins remarked. "Things appear to be getting better, and we hope they are doing better. Those folks are under a lot of stress and they are doing things outside of their normal jobs right now, especially our colleagues in the LSU athletic department. They are taking care of some things like losing their basketball venue and their track venue for the whole semester. They have 2000 more students showing up for classes tomorrow. They have a monumental task down there."

Christine Wilkinson, Vice President and Secretary of Arizona State University, stated that the school has offered from the onset any help they can provide to the hurricane victims. This manifested itself in the game being moved to Tempe. "As (LSU) Chancellor Sean O'Keefe mentioned earlier," said Wilkinson, "he called (ASU President) Michael Crow earlier this afternoon and the president immediately offered to host the game. We will do it with two things in mind: to provide ASU fans with a great football game against a tough opponent and to provide a major fundraiser, along with LSU, to assist the victims of the hurricane disaster. We seek everyone's help and we need your help. Come to the game and bring your family and friends and it will be a great game and a super fundraiser."

ASU's assistance with the hurricane victims, is already taking place in an academic sense according to Wilkinson. "We have offered to admit students from the New Orleans area and other areas impacted to contact our registrar's office," she commented. "Our registrar's office has received over 1,000 phone calls to find out what was possible from an academic point of view. Within the first day, we had three students enrolled and 20 within the week. The most recent interaction has been between the Architecture and Design school, not only to transfer students, but also their faculty for the entire semester, which will be fairly major. That has happened just this afternoon."

Staging a game on short notice in Sun Devil stadium, is nothing new to Mike Chismar Associate Athletic Director for Operations and Facilities. In 2003, Chismar and his staff had only 24 hours notice to have the stadium host a Monday Night NFL football game, that was moved from San Diego due to the wildfires that struck that area.

"With regards to hosting the game, we are looking forward to it," said Chismar. "We are going to move forward to get in touch with over 1,200 people who work at the games to make sure that they will be at their posts for Saturday's game. We have to get a hold of all of our security personnel and all of the people who do everything from sidelines to running the scoreboards to the more than 300 people who man the concession stands. There is a huge amount of people that come together to put on a football game here. But we will get it done and we're looking forward to it."

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