Hurricane Matthew affecting sports landscape as it approaches East Coast

— -- University of Florida officials said Saturday's Southeastern Conference game between the Gators and LSU will not be moved from Gainesville amid the threat of Hurricane Matthew,?which could deliver a major blow to the state later this week before likely spinning up the East Coast.

"A final decision on the start time of the game will be made by 1 p.m. on Thursday as we continue to monitor the storm," the school said in a statement Wednesday. The game's scheduled start time is noon at?Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

School officials said they are working closely with local and state and officials as well as the SEC office to monitor the hurricane's progress and its potential impact on campus and the safety of the fans.

Meanwhile, football games elsewhere in the state were postponed, other events were canceled and countless contingency plans were being made. The UCF Knights on Wednesday decided to postpone their game against Tulane -- which was scheduled to be played Friday night in Orlando -- until Nov. 5.

"Taking into account all the latest projections for Hurricane Matthew, we have to keep the safety of everyone involved in these events at the forefront of our decision-making," UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. "We appreciate our friends at Tulane and Houston understanding and working with us through this situation."

Hurricane Matthew is a Category 3 storm, and forecasters expect it to strengthen and be very near Florida's Atlantic coast by late Thursday evening or early Friday morning as it moves north and likely heads up the East Coast.?At least 11 deaths in the Caribbean have been attributed to the storm.

Storm shutters were being drawn closed at the University of Miami, where the 10th-ranked? Hurricanes?were preparing for?their annual rivalry game with No. 23? Florida State?on Saturday. Hurricane warnings were issued Tuesday night for parts of?Florida, with forecasters saying hurricane conditions -- winds of 74 mph or more -- were likely to hit the state Thursday.

"I don't know what we'll do, to be honest with you," Miami coach Mark Richt said. "Just keep everybody safe first. We'll do the best we can."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the game was still on. Miami's athletics director, Blake James, said in a statement, "We are monitoring Hurricane Matthew, and are in constant contact with stadium personnel. We are hopeful that the impact of Hurricane Matthew will be minimal and the game between the Hurricanes and Seminoles will be played as planned."

Schools in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina were already reacting, with some soccer, volleyball and other college contests scheduled for the next few days either canceled or postponed. South Carolina was still hoping to host Georgia in their SEC football game Saturday night in Columbia, though Gov. Nikki Haley suggested that was unlikely.

"As of now I can't imagine that happening," said Haley, who planned to issue an evacuation order Wednesday affecting coastal areas in her state. "But certainly we're going to continue to watch this."

Two other college football games -- Albany State at Charleston Southern and Bethune-Cookman at South Carolina State -- have already been postponed.

The Miami Heat, who arrived home Tuesday night after a 106-95 victory over the Washington Wizards in their preseason opener,?have decided to pack up once again and fly to Houston on Wednesday night to resume preseason workouts, according to a team spokesman.

The Heat will use the Houston Rockets' practice facilities before Saturday's preseason game against the? Minnesota Timberwolves in Kansas City. The Rockets are traveling to China for two preseason games.

The? Tampa Bay Lightning?at Florida Panthers?NHL preseason game scheduled for Thursday has been canceled, as the arena the?Panthers?call home, the BB&T Center outside of Miami, was in the area under a hurricane watch. The Panthers were scheduled to fly to West Point, New York, on Friday,?but if winds close airports in the Miami area, those plans would be affected.

Cancellations included the decision by Gulfstream Park West to scrap its live thoroughbred racing cards for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday was to be first day of racing this season at the track in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, and officials are keeping a close watch. The Dolphins, who already had planned not to practice Thursday, will close their team offices to give players and coaches extra time to prepare for the storm.

"We're watching the weather with the hurricane that's going on down there," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Tuesday on his radio show. "There may be some weather issues. There's a very slight chance that game could be moved up here. There's been some discussion because of it."

The ACC -- which could have at least five Saturday football games directly affected by the storm -- said it was monitoring Matthew closely and hoped that games would be played as scheduled.

Florida State is scheduled to fly in Thursday night for the Miami game, though forecasters say Thursday could be the day when the Miami area gets the worst of Matthew's wind.

"We've looked through every scenario known to man and we'll figure it out here when it gets there, and we'll fly down when they tell us to fly down and play when they tell us to play," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Other Saturday ACC games that figure to be affected include Army at Duke, Virginia Tech at North Carolina, Syracuse at Wake Forest and Notre Dame at NC State.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said pushing his team's game back to Sunday was possible if events warranted.

"Everything is on the table right now," Kelly said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.