Miami was scheduled to visit Arkansas State on Sept. 9. It was set to be the biggest home game in Arkansas State history. A 5-time national champion coming to Jonesboro is a dream come true for every Group of 5 administrator in the country. When the rug was pulled out from under them at the last minute, Arkansas State was upset. Who can blame them?
But, as we know, Hurricane Irma hit Florida that week, and Miami opted to stay home. Given the choice between playing a scheduled road game and allowing its staff and players to prepare with their families for a major weather event, Miami chose Option B. Who can blame them?
The Red Wolves and Hurricanes were stuck between a rock and a hard place and remain stuck there, five months later. And now things have gotten contentious.
The situation has devolved to the point where the schools’ lawyers are mailing threatening letters to one another. Obtained by KAIT-TV in Arkansas, Miami’s counsel has argued that the school took necessary precautions, as did many other programs in Florida, and has offered to repay its scheduled Jonesboro visit in 2024 or ’25.
Arkansas State argued that Miami could have made the trip if it really wanted, even digging up a quote Mark Richt gave to a South Florida paper admitting as much. The school also offered to house Miami in the days following the game. Arkansas State also wants Miami to make up the trip in 2020 or ’21.
Miami retorted that, sure, it has open dates in those seasons, but those dates are reserved for home games.
Arkansas State responded by saying it would make another trip to Miami for a road game in a future season to make up Miami’s lost home game.
Round and round it goes. The situation has devolved to the point where, in a letter dated on Monday, Arkansas State’s counsel demanded $650,000 from Miami — the buyout clause as dictated in the contract the schools mutually signed in 2013 — by Thursday, or Arkansas State will take Miami to court.
Here’s that portion of the letter:
Miami believes the force majeure clause allows them out of the contract for free.
It’s now Friday. Where does the dispute stand?
“I very strongly believe in our position. I know our attorneys are working with their attorneys and we’ll get to a resolution,” Miami AD Blake James told the Miami Herald.
When asked if he still wants to play Arkansas State, James said this: “Given where we’re at in the situation. I believe in our position and we’ll let our attorneys resolve the issue with their attorneys.”
We’ve reached out to an Arkansas State spokesman on the status of the negotiation as of Friday morning. That message (as expected) has gone unreturned as of press time. Update: Arkansas State spokesman Jeff Hankins told FootballScoop that ASU has not received payment and is currently “weighing its options.”