From South Florida to the Grand Strand, Hurricane Floyd's march up the Atlantic coast sent sports teams scrambling yesterday to adjust their schedules and get out of the massive storm's path.
No major games were affected, but the potential for high wind and heavy rain led NASCAR to close its headquarters and forced the Miami Dolphins to bus the final 100 miles back from its season-opening victory in Denver.
"It just kind of puts a little bit of fear in you, to say this is serious and you can't relax," NASCAR spokesman Tim Sullivan said from Charlotte, where several employees relocated for the week.
The Florida Panthers' opening NHL exhibition game last night was postponed. The Class A Carolina League, rather than play the deciding game of its championship series, declared Wilmington and Myrtle Beach co-champions.
In an odd twist, Floyd's approach also prompted a judge to declare a mistrial in the lawsuit against Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn by a woman who said he sexually assaulted her at his home.
Farther north, colleges in Georgia and South Carolina called off a handful of games. Most involved volleyball and soccer, but it also included Saturday's football game featuring The Citadel at Western Carolina.
Savannah (Ga.) State's football team began its road trip three days early, while Georgia Southern decided to ride out the storm from its campus about 60 miles inland.
Savannah State boarded buses for the 370-mile trip to Chattanooga, expecting to arrive late last night. Savannah State, a Division II school, will conduct its final three practices in Tennessee.
Division I-AA power Georgia Southern continued preparations for its game Saturday at Oregon State. Although classes were canceled yesterday afternoon, the football team remained at the school with Floyd approaching. The players planned to gather in Kennedy Hall, a two-year-old brick structure and one of the sturdiest buildings on campus.
"One of the thoughts was going to Atlanta, but trying to find rooms for 65 kids proved to be impossible," sports information director Tom McClellan said.
Morgan State's home football game against South Carolina State scheduled for Saturday was postponed after the latter school's president canceled classes and forbade athletic teams from traveling to games.
Issel to Coach Nuggets
Hall of Famer Dan Issel is returning to coach the Denver Nuggets.
Issel, who also is the team's vice president and general manager, replaces Mike D'Antoni, whom he named coach a year ago. D'Antoni went 14-36 in his only season.
Issel, 50, played for the Nuggets from 1975 to '85, retiring as the franchise's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He was named coach in 1992, helping to rebuild a club that had won a total of 44 games the previous two seasons.
He remained coach until early in the 1995-96 season, leaving with a record of 96-102. Since his departure, Denver has gone through five coaches with little success.
Lopez to Face Grigsby
Ricardo Lopez, the unbeaten WBC 105-pound champion, will challenge Will Grigsby for the IBF 108-pound title Oct. 2, on a card that will also feature Julio Caesar Chavez, a former champion in three weight classes.
Soccer great Pele has revealed for the first time that he refused to play in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany to protest torture by Brazil's military regime.
In a television interview, Pele, 58, said he resisted pressure and threats from Brazil's ruling generals to play.
"I had left the national team in '71, and in '74 I was in good shape. But that story about torture made me desist," Pele said Sunday on the Bandeirantes TV network.
"The military tried to force me," he added. "I was pressured with tax questions, but I decided to stick to my position."
The armed forces seized power in a 1964 coup and held it until 1985. Many real and suspected political adversaries were arrested, tortured and killed, especially between 1968 and 1974.
The period coincided with the golden age of Brazilian soccer, whose symbol was Pele. He was on the national teams that won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and the government used the team to improve its own popularity. . . .
Doug Miller and Yari Allnutt scored second-half goals as the Rochester Raging Rhinos, who play in the second division A-League, upset Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, 2-0, in the U.S. Open Cup final in Columbus, Ohio. The 86-year-old tournament is open to all pro and amateur teams in the United States.
Gretzky Speaks Up
Wayne Gretzky is now a spokesman for the Osteoarthritis Early Warning Campaign.
The retired NHL superstar said he has what could be the early signs of arthritis.
"I didn't think people my age had arthritis," Gretzky, 38, said. "Now, I want to help other realize that arthritis pain is not restricted to the elderly and effective treatment is available."