Howard University finally knows where it will play the rest of its home games this season. It just doesn't know how many players will be around for those games.
The Bison, 0-4 as they prepare to visit Winston-Salem State for a 7 p.m. game Saturday, found out this week that they will play Norfolk State (Nov. 2) and Morehouse College (Nov. 9) on the current grass-dirt surface at Howard Stadium.
Next year, however, the Bison will have a home field covered with artificial turf, said Carl Anderson, vice president for student affairs.
The university had hoped to play this season's games on a new artificial surface, but the university is only now negotiating with the second-lowest bidder for the project, said Anderson, who would not name the contractor.
Anderson said the project, which he estimated would cost $1.5 million, would also include improvements to the stands, running track and press box.
Howard switched a scheduled home game Sept. 14 to the University of Rhode Island because school officials believed construction would be under way at that time.
There had been confusion about where the remainder of the Bison's home games would be played because the lowest bidder could not meet a performance (work insurance) bond to operate in the District of Columbia.
"The project is still on," said Anderson. "It is funded and we are making progress in negotiations with a new contractor. This whole thing has been very disappointing to us. We thought we were well on our way to having construction begin in late August.
"I never thought it would be this difficult to get this done, but these companies will frequently put in bids for things they cannot deliver."
The bids on the project were never made public, but Anderson said there was no truth to reports that the difference between the top two bids was approximately $500,000.
"There was considerable difference, but nowhere close to that much," he said.
Construction will probably begin in the spring, said Anderson, and a carpet-like surface should be in place for next season's opener.
"That is our plan," said Anderson. "And that is what we intend, even if I have to stitch some of the remnants together myself."
Coach Willie Jeffries could use some of that stitching ability to put his starting backfield together. Saturday, Howard will be without its starting quarterback and top two fullbacks.
Sophomore quarterback Leon Brown has yet to recover from strained muscles in his throwing arm. He was injured in the closing minutes of Howard's 26-21 loss to South Carolina State two weeks ago. Freshman Lee DeBose will start in Brown's place.
With a week off before its next game, the Bison had hoped some injuries would mend. Instead, practice last Friday turned into a disaster when starting fullback Ronnie Epps and backup Tyrone Johnson suffered knee injuries.
Epps suffered ligament damage and might require surgery. Johnson might be out only two weeks.
Starting center Darryl Tilghman, a freshman from Theodore Roosevelt High School, also injured a knee at practice and will be out at least two weeks.
Jeffries is encouraged that tailback Harvey Reed, who has carried the ball only twice in the past two weeks because of a variety of injuries, began practicing again late this week. He reportedly might start Saturday against the Division II Rams.
Jeffries is hopeful the Bison will earn their first victory Saturday.
"We don't want to be happy with our last loss, but we moved the ball up and down the field against a defense that had stronger players than we had," said Jeffries.
"Lee is doing much better with every practice. He is making better decisions (on the option) and each day the kids are getting more confidence in him." Investigation Ended Associated Press
BALTIMORE, Oct. 10 -- The NCAA today ended a year-long investigation into the use of five ineligible players by Morgan State's football and basketball teams, and no disciplinary action will be taken, accoring to published reports.
"The case is closed," university President Earl Richardson told the Baltimore Evening Sun.
The players involved, two on the football team in 1983-84 and three on the 1984 basketball team, are no longer at Morgan State. Under NCAA rules, the players were not eligible to participate in varsity sports because of poor academic records, according to Evening Sun stories last November.