Tulane will play football
By Benjamin Hochman
Friday, 09/02, 6:30 p.m.
DALLAS – Tulane will play football this season.
While Tulane University announced today that it won’t hold a fall semester at its Uptown campus, its students will be able to enroll for a semester in “nine of the leading higher education associations,” according to a statement from Tulane president Scott Cowen, including the University of Houston and Houston’s Rice University.
Because of this announcement, Tulane athletic teams will be able to play sports this fall, including the football team, which is currently in Dallas.
“We’re playing ball,” said Scott Sidwell, Tulane’s associate athletic director. “Now it’s up to us to make it happen.”
Beginning late Thursday night, athletic director Rick Dickson and Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky began discussing contingency plans for Tulane, a team forced to leave New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. The duo flew to Houston on Friday and met with Cowen.
“Until 4 p.m. on Friday,” Dickson said, “we didn’t know the answer if we could compete in our sports programs.”
But a decision was made to get Tulane students in classrooms, and that meant football players, too.
“Our student-athletes are an integral part of this plan,” Cowen said in a statement. “We want our athletes to carry the torch, face, and name of Tulane University during this difficult time and we have worked out an arrangement within the context of the plan described above. This is made possible once again with assistance and generosity from colleges and universities – those in Conference USA and those outside of the conference - who have generously offered to help keep our teams together by providing not only academic opportunities but also practice facilities, playing facilities and general support.”
“Logistics have not even been tackled,” said Dickson, who will remain in Houston for weekend meetings. “The first priority between now and next week is to make a decision of where to place the team and to get them in class.”
The Wave’s first game will be Sept. 17 against Mississippi State. It is yet to be determined whether the game, originally scheduled for New Orleans, will be played in Starkville, Miss., or in Tulane’s future “home.”
But the players just want to play.
“We need this season,” Wave quarterback Lester Ricard said. “I think that will be the ultimate joy, to see us do well this season.”
“It’s something that we want to do for New Orleans,” Wave linebacker Antonio Mason said. “A lot of people look at us as not only reps of Tulane, but of New Orleans. People can look at us and say, wow, look at that team – they’re going on the road, going through all that adversity, and still getting the job done.”