LSU-Auburn to be played as scheduled

As members of the LSU football team boarded buses and crossed Nicholson Drive en route to their practice facilities, Chancellor Mark Emmert and athletics director Skip Bertman, in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference, announced that the team's game against Auburn will take place as scheduled Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Tiger Stadium.

"We as the university want to make sure we do everything we can to show our support for, and our respect for, those that were involved in these crimes and the victims of these crimes," Emmert said at a press conference shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday.

"But beyond our prayer and our financial support, we also want to demonstrate that life goes on — that indeed as Americans, we are committed to not allowing our freedoms to be infringed by terrorists; that we are going to continue doing those things that Americans do.

"In that context, the SEC presidents and chancellors had a teleconference today, as did the athletic directors. And we have decided that we will continue with our athletic schedules, including our football games that are scheduled for this Saturday."

Minutes before the press conference at LSU, the SEC released a statement announcing that its member institutions will donate a total of $1 million from gate receipts and television fees to funds that will assist the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Emmert said the conference institutions, including LSU and Auburn, will each donate $50,000, bringing the total to $600,000. The SEC will cover the remaining $400,000 of the $1 million donation.

"The conference believes these events present a meaningful opportunity to bring our people together in a common expression of sympathy and mourning," the statement read. "An appropriate ceremony to express these sentiments will be held prior to each game. …

"In taking this action, we join the President of the United States and other leaders of our nation by ‘not allowing this event to change our way of life or restrict our freedoms.' "

A press conference to detail more of the security measures for the game at LSU, as well as a game scheduled across town between Southern University and Prairie View A&M is scheduled for 6 p.m.

"We will take all precautions necessary to ensure that our students, our student-athletes and our fans are protected," Emmert said. "We are going to make sure that we have done everything that is prudent, to make sure that the areas are secure as humanly possible."

LSU officials are encouraging fans to enter the stadium as early as possible, Emmert said. To that end, Tiger Stadium will open its gates at 5 p.m., 1½ hours earlier than its standard procedure. The school's marching band will enter the stadium at 5:45 p.m.

Some of the other expected security measures are as follows:

  • An increase in state, city and sheriff police is expected for the game, as well as parking lots "A" and "H" outside the stadium. The increased security will also include police dogs.
  • Bags will be searched going into the stadium.
  • No tents will be allowed in the area surrounding the stadium.

Emmert also said officials are taking measures to make the area above Tiger Stadium a "no-fly zone," thereby ridding the skies of planes with banner advertising or the possibility of any potential harm those planes might create.

If required by changing events or circumstances, the SEC stated, adjustments could me made to the schedule.

"Absence of change in the level of threat, we intend to continue with the game," Emmert said. "One never knows what's going to occur between now and then, but I'd hate to speculate on those occurrences."

As for Auburn's travel plans, Bertman said he spoke with David Housel, the athletics director at Auburn, and that Housel told Bertman that the Auburn football team could possibly fly via charter plane, as the team usually does. However, Auburn is currently committed to traveling by bus if can't secure a charter.

"The only transportation issue (for SEC games) is Brigham Young going to Mississippi State, and the officials," Bertman said. "There was the contingency made to replace the officials if they couldn't make it. But the team, on charter, might be able to make it."

Bertman also said he spoke with LSU football coach Nick Saban, who told Bertman he would support whatever decision was made. Saban is scheduled to meet with the media early this evening.

Part of the logic of LSU and other SEC schools used in deciding to play their games, Bertman explained, was that a schedule of make-up games in November or December would provide just as big a security risk as ones being held this weekend.

Other conferences planning to play their football games this weekend are the Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and the WAC.

Although Georgia Tech and Florida State have postponed its respective contests, the ACC has not reached a final decision on its schedule.

The Pac-10 and Big East have called off their games. Other inter-conference games that have been postponed include Washington at No. 1 Miami (Fla.), San Diego State at Ohio State, Rice at Nebraska, Stanford at San Jose State and Cal at Rutgers. Thursday night's lineup with Ohio at N.C. State and Penn State at Virginia had already been postponed.

The Texas Tech at UTEP game, originally scheduled for Thursday, was moved to Saturday.

The LSU volleyball team was scheduled to play host to the Tiger Classic tournament this weekend. However, due to Friday's National Day of Mourning, the tournament will not be played.

The LSU soccer team will also observe the National Day of Mourning and not travel to Baltimore for scheduled matches against Towson and Loyola (Md.) College. The LSU men's tennis team's individual tournament at Rice University in Houston was cancelled.

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