UCF, Penn St. Ireland opener threatened by volcano

ORLANDO, Fla. - Penn State's season opener in Ireland next week against the University of Central Florida may be in jeopardy because of a possible volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Iceland's Civil Protection Department said Wednesday that about 500 people were evacuated from the highlands part of the Vatnajokull glacier. The action was taken as a precaution following thousands of small earthquakes recently near Bardarbunga, a stratovolcano under the glacier.

UCF departs for Ireland Aug. 26 for its Aug. 30 game. Athletics spokesman Andy Seeley said school officials are monitoring the situation.

Ireland is about 900 miles southeast of Iceland, but a volcanic eruption could produce volcanic ash and potentially affect flights to Europe. More than 100,000 flights were cancelled following the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokul volcano.

"We're aware of that," said Kevin Threlkel, Penn State's director of football administration. "We have to lean on United Airlines and the folks that are handling our cargo. That's kind of out of our area of expertise. It's important for us to be aware of it, but then we'll lean on the other experts and it relates to that type of stuff."