KENT, Ohio - Kent State has issued an apology for forcing a women’s field hockey game to end in the middle of overtime so the school could set off fireworks in the middle of the day for a pre-season football game.
Temple University and the University of Maine’s women’s teams were in a second overtime period at Kent State, on a field near the school’s football stadium, when they were abruptly ordered to end play, according to news reports.
The match, which was hosted by Kent on Saturday, was declared a scrimmage with no official result, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Temple’s coach and the National Field Hockey Coaches Association both called out the decision.
“I think it’s just where we’re at with female sports,” Temple coach Susan Ciufo told ESPN, according to the Times.
“As much as we have come a long way, there’s still a long way to go. Saturday is the perfect example,” she said.
Andy Whitcomb, NFHCA president, and the association’s executive director, Jenn Goodrich, issued a prepared letter on the decision.
“… We cannot understand why the university would seemingly prioritize a daytime fireworks display over the completion of a Division I Women’s Field Hockey contest. The optics and the messaging to every field hockey program and to every field hockey player are that while they matter, they don’t matter more than pregame football festivities.”
Well... that's a new one.— UMaine Field Hockey (@UMaineFH) September 7, 2019
Today's game at @KentState has been declared a "no contest" after Kent State administration came onto the field prior to the second overtime half and called off the game to allow the noontime Kent football game to begin on time.
By Monday, Kent State’s athletic director, Joel Nielsen, responded to the controversial move, apologizing for the decision and calling it “an opportunity to learn from our mistakes,” the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
“In hindsight, a different decision should have been made to ultimately ensure the game reached its conclusion. We hold ourselves to a very high standard, and in this situation, we failed,” Nielsen said.
“Also, we let down the field hockey community and its supporters as a whole. We live by our core values, including integrity and respect, and in this case, we undoubtedly fell short,” he said.
Nielsen said the school has already taken steps to make sure a decision like this never happens again.
“I can assure you that we have already reviewed and altered our procedures to see that no student-athletes are faced with this situation in the future,” he said.
Despite Nielsen's apology, women's field hockey fans were outraged by the decision.
@KentState athletic director has some serious issues to answer for. I guess Title IX doesn’t exist at all D1 college levels. Very shameful. These ladies work for the opportunity to prove themselves on the pitch and you stripped them of that full chance. #SHAMEFULKENTSTATE— Peter shanton (@PShanton) September 7, 2019
This is terribly disrespectful to the sport, it’s players & coaches and the NCAA as a whole! There needs to be a formal complaint sent in from both teams to the NCAA Governing Body. This is not right and should never happen! This is NCAA Div 1, not high school field hockey!!— Terri Waters Smith (@TerriTerann) September 7, 2019
Wonder if this is a Title IX violation? Have no idea. But it seems that a women’s sport playing its game was denied its opportunity because of a men’s sport given preferential treatment.— Pete Kauffman (@petekauffman) September 7, 2019
Radzinski (@MolRad) September 7, 2019
Ridiculous. I think if I coached the Kent St. team, we’d schedule our next practice in the in the front yard of some administrators house at 3:00AM. Good luck getting contributions from the field hockey families to your athletic fund.— Victor Rouse (@niceun1) September 9, 2019
How long before women in sport are treated equally? It’s 2019! Fireworks and Football was priority, not the second half of ovetime in competitive fixture between Temple and Maine University. #womeninsport #equality pic.twitter.com/RFGqqxOaQi— Ross Gilham-Jones (@rossgj14) September 7, 2019
The fact that it wasn’t @KentStFH playing, but 2 teams that traveled to play at our field makes this even more embarrassing. Would it have been different if Kent had been playing & not 2 away teams? The truth is that doesn’t matter because either way @KentStAthletics messed up.— Aly✨ (@alyharmatz) September 7, 2019