LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — The Hurricanes and ASU might finally meet in Arkansas this year. But it will more than likely be in an Arkansas courtroom.
The University of Miami has been unwilling to reschedule their canceled 2017 game against the Red Wolves before 2024 despite concessions by Arkansas State, according to a Feb. 12 letter drafted by ASU's Assistant General Counsel Brad Phelps obtained by THV11 through an FOI request.
The letter also said that Miami's invocation of a force majeure clause should not be permitted because the game was scheduled to take place in Arkansas. Miami canceled the game because it was concerned the football team would not be able to return in a reasonable time frame as stipulated in the contract, according to Miami's General Counsel James D. Rowlee in a Feb. 9 letter to ASU.
ASU made clear its intent to file a lawsuit to collect liquidated damages of $650,000 if they are not paid by Feb. 15, as the contract dictates for such damages. Although, ASU acknowledges that during a phone call Miami made it clear that did not plan to pay the damages.
An offer to play a buy game in Miami was extended by ASU. ASU also offered to pay for a private charter flight for Miami and to allow them to practice at ASU's practice facilities, Rowlee said.
A scheduling service was contracted by ASU to determine openings before 2024. It found that Miami has two openings in 2020 or 2021. Here is Miami's response from the letter:
First, the only open football game dates for UM in 2020 and 2021 are home dates and they are reserved for games with Football Championship Subdivision ("FCS") institutions. Second, even if those dates were to be released for a game with a non-FCS institution, the presently uncommitted home game dates in 2020 and 2021 cannot be replaced with an away game with ASU.
Rowlee also quotes Miami's Head Football Coach from a Sun-Sentinel article: "Could we have snuck out just in time to play that game? We could have, logistically ..."
ASU's letter rebutted this claim and said other Florida teams affected by Hurricane Irma had arranged timely rematches with every other team but the Hurricanes.
In Miami's letter, the campus's state after Hurricane Irma is detailed along with clean-up numbers.
In the aftermath of the storm, over 50 percent of UM's main campus was impassable and 75 percent of its roadways and pathways were obstructed by numerous toppled trees, downed power lines and huge amounts of other accumulated debris. More than 2,000 tons of landscape debris covered the campus, requiring more than 300 personnel, vendors and contractors to remove the debris, clear roadways and pathways, and restore power and damaged infrastructure. Due to the massive damage and devastation, the campus was closed for 19 days. As emergency crews worked to return the campus to normal operations, UM canceled or postponed athletic events for a second consecutive week, including postponing the September 16 football game at Florida State, canceling the volleyball team's home invitational against Florida International University, postponing the women's soccer match against Syracuse and canceling the women's tennis team's trip to North Carolina for the Duke Bond Invitational.
The Sun-Sentinel in Miami makes the argument that the Hurricanes did not resume full practice until Sept. 16 and went three weeks without playing a game because of power outages and the campus's closure. It also makes note that 35 members of the team evacuated to Orlando before the storm hit and most of the players from South Florida opted to stay home.
THV11 will keep you updated as the Feb. 15 deadline for Miami to pay damages approaches.