Iowa-Indiana game postponed

Updated: February 18, 2014, 10:41 PM ET
By Myron Medcalf | ESPN.com

Tuesday night's scheduled matchup between No. 15 Iowa and Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., was postponed after a piece of metal fell from the ceiling and damaged seats at Assembly Hall hours before the game was scheduled to begin.

According to a release from the school, the beam that fell was 8 feet long and just more than a foot wide.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority," Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said in the release. "Our university engineers have advised us to postpone events in Assembly Hall until it can be determined what caused the facing to fall and ensure the safety of everyone attending an event in the facility."

[+] EnlargeAssembly Hall
AP Photo/The Herald-Times/Chris HowellA piece of metal that fell into the seats at Indiana's Assembly Hall forced the postponement of the Hoosiers' game against Iowa on Tuesday.

Three hours after announcing the postponement, Glass said the teams could have played the game, but only if fans were kept out. The Hoosiers also briefly considered moving the game to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis later this week.

Glass said he was told the harsh winter was the culprit.

"The preliminary assessment is that with the snow and ice, it settled at the lowest point in that curve at such a magnitude that it basically popped that bottom plate off," Glass said. "I'm also advised that the plating is actually ornamental and it serves no structural purpose. So what we may do is just remove all that plating."

Parts of the building's four corners were roped off as engineers inspected the metal plates around the rest of the building.

No makeup date has been announced, but Iowa sports information director Matt Weitzel said the Hawkeyes' options for a rescheduled game this late in the season are limited.

"Schools have 72 hours to figure out when to reschedule," Big Ten associate commissioner Mark Rudner told ESPN's Andy Katz. "If they can't agree, then [the] commissioners office will reschedule. We'll be meeting on this first thing Wednesday morning."

"As of right now, they don't know when the game will be rescheduled," Weitzel told ESPN.com. "From our vantage point, we don't have any more open dates."

Iowa (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) had finished its pregame shootaround at Assembly Hall, which opened in 1971 and seats more than 17,000, nearly 90 minutes before the 50-pound beam fell in the northwest corner of the arena. The team planned to return to Iowa on Tuesday night.

"Obviously, we are disappointed tonight's game had to be cancelled," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement. "[Coach] Fran [McCaffery] and his team are in contention for a Big Ten title and were looking forward to the opportunity to getting back on the court.

"The most important part of this equation is safety. We are in full support of Indiana's decision to postpone the game based on the issues with Assembly Hall."

Iowa's next three scheduled games are against Wisconsin in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday, at Minnesota next Tuesday and at home March 1 against Purdue.

For Indiana (14-11, 4-8), it's another strange twist in a season that has seemingly gotten rougher by the day. The defending league champs are stuck in 10th place and are trying to rebound from what has been their worst month of the season.

Duke faced a similar situation to Iowa's after last week's game at North Carolina was postponed due to weather. As a result, the Blue Devils will play three games -- Tuesday (at Georgia Tech), Thursday (at North Carolina) and Saturday (versus Syracuse) -- in five days.

But structural concerns about the facility weren't the issue in that game.

Glass said the Hoosiers asked engineers and outside experts to inspect the premises after the piece of metal crashed into the seats about six hours before tipoff.

Engineers quickly advised school officials not to host any events until a cause could be determined.

Later, during an early evening news conference, Glass said Wednesday night's women's game against Michigan will be played as scheduled because fans can be kept out of the affected seats.

As for the men's team, Indiana remains hopeful its final two home games, March 2 against Ohio State and March 5 against Nebraska, will go on as scheduled. In fact, Indiana coach Tom Crean would have been content using the building Tuesday.

"I think we would feel fine doing that tonight, to be honest with you. It's very isolated," he said. "Our guys would have been comfortable playing anywhere today. They were ready to go."

Indiana officials knew the building needed work. Last month, they announced Cindy Simon Skjodt was donating $40 million to help renovate the facility, which will be renamed the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Among the planned changes are a new entryway, remodeled bathrooms and concession stands, and a new video scoreboard along with box seats above the south baseline bleachers.

But none of the proposed renovations involved the metal plates, and Glass doesn't believe it is necessary now.

"Early on we got the all clear from the engineer that the floor was fine," Glass said. "We could have practice on the floor. We could have had a game there if there were no fans there. So the floor area is in really good shape.

"The fact that the roof itself is almost, well, it's new within three years, and it had been inspected recently, gives us a great deal of comfort there."

ESPN was to air Iowa-Indiana at 9 p.m. ET and instead showed an SEC matchup between Georgia and Tennessee.

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


ALSO SEE