Photo: Billy Napier and Scott Stricklin; Credit: Alex Shepherd
Hurricane Ian's imminent arrival to the state of Florida is bringing uncertainty regarding the Gators' week five matchup against Eastern Washington.
The storm, which is currently hitting Cuba, is a Category 3 major hurricane with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. Meteorologists are projecting Ian to make landfall in Florida by late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning along the state's west coast near Tampa Bay.
Creating question marks surrounding the Gators' upcoming contest in The Swamp, athletic director Scott Stricklin took to Twitter to provide a brief update of the game's status against Eastern Washington.
He reassured fans that the matchup is planned as scheduled for now.
"Currently, Saturday's football game between UF-Eastern Washington is scheduled as planned. The UAA is working with campus, local & state officials to closely monitor Hurricane Ian and its potential impact on Gainesville and the surrounding communities."
However, just hours after Stricklin's notice, the University of Florida canceled in-person and online classes from Wednesday through Friday to give students ample time for evacuation and preparation.
In an email to students, UF announced the cancellation of classes, extracurricular activities and family weekend events previously scheduled to begin on Thursday.
The Gators are monitoring the situation closely.
Head coach Billy Napier commented on the storm's potential impact during his media availability Monday morning, erring on the side of caution for his team and the Gainesville community.
"I think the big thing here, probably more important, is just that we hope that everyone is prepared. I know that we're going to have some wind and significant rain here, but we've got a lot of people in our state that are in for a rough ride here. So our thoughts and prayers are with them as they prepare. Having been a part of these things in the past, it's nothing to play around with. So we've got a game this week, but I think these things are a little bit more important. Certainly, we're going to do everything we can do within our organization to help our players, their families, anybody that may be at risk. Certainly what it does for me is makes you very aware of the thankfulness we should have for — there's a lot of people that go to work where they're in a career where they serve others, and these are very difficult times. So it makes you more thankful for that. We need to get ready to go there, and we'll adjust as we see fit."
For now, Florida is scheduled to take on Eastern Washington at noon ET on Saturday. Updates to follow.
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