Miami Hurricanes settle law suit with Arkansas State for $400,000

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 13: Fredi Knighten
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 13: Fredi Knighten /

The Miami Hurricanes settled their lawsuit over the cancellation of their game at Arkansas State in 2017 for $400,000. Miami was scheduled to play in Jonesboro, Arkansas but canceled due to Hurricane Irma.

The game would have been the biggest in the history of the Athletic Programs at Arkansas State and the biggest event in the history of Jonesboro which has a population of 70,000 and is 70 miles Northwest of Memphis. The Miami Hurricanes decision to cancel the game brought about a lot of debate.

Arkansas State gave the Miami Hurricanes some alternatives to playing the game at the originally scheduled time. They offered to move the game up Friday night, but Miami was concerned they would not be able to make it back home in time.

There was a very real possibility that UM would have had to stay in Jonesboro, Memphis or somewhere else in the region. Arkansas State did offer to try and help with lodging, but Miami Head Coach Mark Richt was more concerned about his players’ safety.

The Miami players who didn’t stay behind with their families went to Orlando with some of the other Miami teams to practice. The University was closed for a week after Irma struck.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that judges in Miami and Jonesboro required Arkansas State and the University of Miami to go to third-party mediation with a deadline of December 20.  Miami decided to settle it out of court for $400,000 because the legal fees would have been about the same.

Miami filed suit against Arkansas State in February to void the back half of their home and home series with the Red Wolves due to the effects of Hurricane Irma being beyond their control. Arkansas State filed a countersuit for breach of contract and sought financial damages for revenues lost.

Jackson stated that Arkansas State Athletic Director Terry Mohajir asked Miami AD Blake James to re-schedule the game for 2020 or ’21. Miami wanted the game in Jonesboro between 2024-28. Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel reported that Arkansas State did not want to wait that long to play the game.

"“(Playing the game between 2024-28 is) “Not workable for and would be detrimental to Arkansas State University,” which was looking to reschedule the game in either 2020 or 2021."

An agreement couldn’t be reached and the teams will likely not play again anytime soon. Miami won the first game in the series at Hard Rock Stadium in 2014.

The University of Miami evacuated their campus because of Irma. A tweet by the University of Miami six days after Miami was supposed to play at Arkansas State showed a timeline of the University reopening.

As it turned out Miami and Florida State didn’t play the following week. That game was rescheduled to October 7. Arkansas State sent out a press release today regarding the settlement.

"“Arkansas State University and the University of Miami agreed Monday to dismiss their respective lawsuits related to the cancellation of a football game in Jonesboro on Sept. 9, 2017.Under a settlement reached following court-ordered mediation, Miami will also pay Arkansas State $400,000. The cancelled (sic) game will not be rescheduled.“I am pleased that both lawsuits have been resolved and that this matter is now behind us,” said Brad Phelps, general counsel for the Arkansas State University System. “I believe this is a fair resolution of these issues.”"

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The settlement ends the saga of Miami playing at mid to lower FBS Group of Five Schools. The Hurricanes only games scheduled at Group of Five schools in the future are against FIU in 2021 and Temple in 2023. The game against the Panthers will be played at either Marlins Park or Hard Rock Stadium.