The University of Maine’s Sept. 30 football game at the University of Central Florida in Orlando has been canceled to allow the Knights to play an American Athletic Conference game against Memphis.

Central Florida’s game against Memphis was postponed last weekend because of Hurricane Irma and needed to be rescheduled.

“They had to choose between us and playing a conference game,” said Karlton Creech, Maine’s athletic director. “They chose the conference game. There’s not much to it.

“They had to make a decision and they did. We respect and understand why they did it.”

Creech said Maine will receive a $350,000 buyout from Central Florida – the amount that the schools agreed to when they signed a contract to play the game. Central Florida is a Football Bowl Subdivision team that traditionally pays smaller Football Championship Subdivision schools like Maine to play a home game.

Central Florida has also postponed a second game this Saturday against Georgia Tech. The university is using its facilities to host 1,000 members of the National Guard assisting with hurricane recovery efforts.

Maine officials are going to try to fill the now-open date, but their options are limited.

“At this point, the options are nonexistent,” said Creech. “But we’re going to look. If we can find a suitable opponent, we’ll play a game.”

If Maine (1-1) cannot fill that opening, it will have two bye weeks in the first five weeks of its season, sandwiched around a road game at defending FCS champion James Madison.

“We want to play a game,” said Maine Coach Joe Harasymiak. “Maybe we can find one. But we certainly can understand the situation that Central Florida is in.”

One possibility is Georgia State, which had its Sept. 30 nonconference game against Memphis canceled. Georgia State received a $1.1 million buyout, according to a release on its website. But that release also quotes Georgia State Athletic Director Charlie Cobb as saying the school would prefer to play an FBS opponent.

“We’ll see what happens there,” said Harasymiak. “It’s a long shot, but we’ll take a look.”

Creech said he contacted officials of the Colonial Athletic Association, of which Maine is a member, when Central Florida notified him of the cancellation to make sure it wouldn’t impact Maine’s playoff chances.

“I was told it would have no effect on our playoff chances,” he said. “So our fate is still in our own hands.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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