Print and Go Back ESPN.com: ESPN [Print without images]

Friday, September 2, 2005
Updated: September 3, 7:50 AM ET
Athletes, teams pick up the pieces after Katrina

ESPN.com news services

Athletes across the country are helping displaced relatives and friends in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as New Orleans teams and sporting events consider their upcoming seasons.

Red Cross

Indiana Pacers Jonathan Bender and Danny Granger are both taking in people from the New Orleans area, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel escaped Louisiana before Hurricane Katrina ravaged the state, but his New Orleans-based ministry might have been lost.

Lola Wuerffel, his mother, told Florida Today that the former Florida Gators star left Louisiana before the storm and stayed with his family in Destin.

"From what we know, it looks like everything is under water," she said. "At least it looks that way from what we could tell. Danny watched the TV reports and could tell from the areas he saw that it was likely flooded."

Rev. Mo Leverett started the Desire Street Ministries in 1990. It has a junior high and high school to help disadvantaged children, something Wuerffel has dedicated his life to after football.

Sporting events that would have been played in the Superdome remain in limbo.

The New Orleans Bowl, which pits the Sun Belt and Conference USA champions on Dec. 20 was one of those games.

"I'm 100 percent sure that the game will be played this year, but I'm zero percent sure where it will be," Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters said. "I don't thik it will be in the Superdome. But Dec. 20 is a long way away. Memphis and Lafayette have expressed interest in it. There are other places that have expressed interest and we will try to make sure the game occurs.''

The Sun Belt Conference office had to move to Lafayette from its headquarters in New Orleans.

BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg spoke to Nokia Sugar Bowl president Mark Romig, but no decision had been made about whether the game would be played in the Superdome, BCS spokesman Bob Burda said.

"At this point, it's just too early to speculate," Burda told the paper.

MasterCard Alamo Bowl president and CEO Derrick Fox told the paper he's invited Sugar Bowl officials to move their game to San Antonio.

The Saints have already moved practices to San Antonio, and the Hornets will open their camp at the Air Force Academy.

Fox, meanwhile, is considering widening the television market for Saints games, which typically have gone to 15 to 20 percent of the country, to include parts of Missouri and Texas, the New York Times reported.

The NFL also might be asked to lift blackout rules if the team plays in Baton Rouge, the paper reported.

Churchill Downs has canceled a November meet planned at the Fair Grounds race track in New Orleans as track officials focus on locating hundreds of employees displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The race meet, scheduled to begin on Thanksgiving Day and run through March, could be run at another race track near Shreveport in northern Louisiana, Meeker said during a conference call Friday.

Donations from the sports world continued to flow in Friday. The Houston Texans raised more than $2.5 million with a fund-raising drive during Houston's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.

Also, Sheila Johnson, president and managing partner of the Washington Mystics, donated $500,000 to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts.

Mystics guard Temeka Johnson hails from New Orleans and All-Star Alana Beard is from Shreveport, La.

Although Temeka Johnson's home suffered considerable damage, her family members were able to move to a safe location. The Alana Beard Foundation in Shreveport is collecting items for the victims.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.