The NFL's recommendation to strip Phoenix of the Super Bowl may have a bearing on whether the University of Virginia accepts a bid to the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.
The No. 11 Cavaliers, who were No. 1 in the nation until their loss last Saturday to Georgia Tech, are among the leading candidates to be invited to the New Year's Day bowl in Tempe, near Phoenix. Bowl invitations may not be extended until Nov. 24.
Voters in Arizona Tuesday rejected two ballot measures that would have created a holiday in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he will encourage club owners to move the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona to another location because of the votes.
"We are aware of what is happening out there," said Virginia Athletic Director Jim Copeland, who declined to speak directly about a Fiesta Bowl bid for Virginia, which is 7-1 and on course to finish 10-1. He did say the situation "looks good" for Virginia to be playing in a New Year's Day bowl.
Don Meyers, head of the Fiesta Bowl selection committee, said his panel would use its "best shot" to get Virginia to accept a Fiesta invitation.
While not encouraging schools to boycott the Fiesta Bowl, NAACP spokesman James Williams said today that his national civil rights organization "would support any . . . college team deciding that it would rather not participate" in the Fiesta Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl spokesman Brent DeRaad expressed concern about how the referendum votes would affect his event, acknowledging that the bowl "could have problems bringing teams in."
"I fully expect Notre Dame or Florida State or any team to be concerned about the way the vote turned out," DeRaad said in an interview with the Washington Post. "It worries us, obviously. This affects the Fiesta Bowl's entire future."
Selection committee chief Meyers said he is sure individual schools are paying attention to the King holiday rift.
"But I don't think it will have an adverse effect" on the Fiesta Bowl," he said.
Meyers said he is confident state lawmakers will reach a compromise, "something like a Lincoln-King holiday."