California and Wyoming have agreed to play in the Copper Bowl on New Year's Eve despite voters' rejection of a paid Martin Luther King Jr. state holiday, the bowl's president said Monday.
Larry Brown said the schools would be given official invitations on Nov. 24 for the second Copper Bowl, to be played at the University of Arizona.California assistant sports information director Ron Juanso confirmed his school would accept a bid, saying the team "had a discussion on whether or not to play the game, and they decided unanimously to play."
"However, we wanted to do something as a tribute to Dr. King . . . something subtle, possibly an emblem on a jersey, possibly a helmet," Juanso said.
Paul Roach, Wyoming's coach and athletic director, met with his players on Monday.
"We got the squad together today and the players voted to accept a formal invitation," he said. "If a tremendous wave of opposition develops, we would possibly reconsider our decision and bowl officials have said they understand that."
Wyoming officials said their players would wear armbands as a salute to King.
Copper Bowl vice president Burt Kinerk said bowl officials support "the issue of equal rights and Martin Luther King Day." And bowl executive director Merle Miller said, "We have no objection to an armband or whatever." California (6-3-1) and Wyoming (9-2) are unranked.
Officials hoped to attract 40,000 to 45,000 fans for the game in 56,167-seat Arizona Stadium.
Arizona voters last Tuesday defeated two measures that would have created a paid state holiday. One that would have substituted a paid King holiday for a paid Columbus Day was turned down by a 3-1 margin; the other, to keep a paid Columbus Day and add a paid King holiday, lost by fewer than 17,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast.
The outcome prompted NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to recommend that the 1993 Super Bowl be moved from Tempe, although later in the week he said he had not ruled out the game being played there. It also created headaches for the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl, which was still scrambling to line up teams.