Kent State ended a womens field hockey game for football fireworks. Now teams are fuming. – The Washington Post

Kent State ended a womens field hockey game for football fireworks. Now teams are fuming. - The Washington Post

Fireworks abruptly end Temples OT field hockey game

That's our team 🙂Thank you to everybody for the support over the last few days. We can't wait to get back on the field this Friday at home, and we hope to see you there! pic.twitter.com/OQWXiSUMr2

We regret todays game had to be stopped during overtime play per field guidelines as previously discussed. We recognize the hard work and dedication of all student-athletes. The safety of our community, including student-athletes and visitors is always our first consideration.

“The NFHCA Office has reviewed the game contract and cannot find any reference to the 10:30 a.m. hard stop nor can we find any information regarding what would happen if the game was not completed prior to reaching the ‘drop dead’ time,” NFHCA president Andy Whitcomb and executive director Jenn Goodrich said in a statement. “While we are aware of the fact that Kent State officials offered to complete the game at 5:30 p.m. and pay hotel costs for the Temple team, we find their lack of preparedness and the timing of their response to be unacceptable.”

That's our team 🙂Thank you to everybody for the support over the last few days. We can't wait to get back on the field this Friday at home, and we hope to see you there! pic.twitter.com/OQWXiSUMr2

“I think it's just where we're at with female sports,” she told ESPN. “As much as we have come a long way, there's still a long way to go. Saturday is the perfect example. To kick off two Division I teams when they're about to go into double overtime for fireworks is just, it's beyond me. I think it's a disgrace to both programs, the families and the schools. I wish there was some better decision-making throughout the process in recognizing what this could mean in the bigger picture moving forward.”

We regret todays game had to be stopped during overtime play per field guidelines as previously discussed. We recognize the hard work and dedication of all student-athletes. The safety of our community, including student-athletes and visitors is always our first consideration.

“In hindsight, a different decision should have been made to ultimately ensure the game reached its conclusion,” Nielsen said in a statement. “We hold ourselves to a very high standard, and in this situation, we failed. I realize that my statement does not undo the negative impact on the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans who deserved to see their teams compete in a full contest.”

University of Maine field hockey players said they are shocked and offended by the treatment the team received at Kent State University on Saturday.

However, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association called the university’s decision “unacceptable.” The group said both teams were told of a 10:30 a.m. stoppage time in May but Kent State “failed to communicate the steps that would be taken should the 10:30 a.m. hard stop be reached.”

The Black Bears neutral-site game against Temple University was halted by Kent State officials after the first 10-minute overtime period. They cited the need to prepare for a fireworks display planned prior to kickoff of Kent States football game at an adjacent stadium.

The No. 24 Maine Black Bears and the Temple Owls were playing field hockey and both teams were in a scoreless tie and going into double overtime before Kent State officials told both coaches the game had to end because of fire marshal regulations regarding the football fireworks, ESPN reported.

Coach Josette Babineau, and UMaine seniors Riley Field and Brianna Ricker spoke out about the situation during a Monday afternoon press conference in Orono.

Kent State University came under fire Saturday after a field hockey match was stopped going into the middle of double overtime in order for the school to launch fireworks before a football game.

Its almost awful that Im not surprised [that it happened], because were a womens field hockey team, and field hockey isnt a huge sport in America, Field said.

Kent State Field Hockey said in a tweet the game “had to be stopped” over the guidelines “previously discussed.”

On one level, we should be shocked and surprised but, on another level, its pretty sad [that] its not so shocking, she added.

Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen apologized to the student-athletes and coaches from both teams Monday.

UMaines entire field hockey and womens basketball teams attended along with UMaine Athletics Director Ken Ralph and several athletics staff members, including softball coach Mike Coutts and football coach Nick Charlton.

Kent State held their home opener at noon against Kennesaw State. The field hockey game was ruled a scrimmage.

The outcry also was visible on national social media, with the likes of ESPNs Jay Bilas and numerous media, former players and administrators expressing their disapproval of Kent States decision.

Ralph said UMaines Title IX department has filed a complaint with Kent States Title IX administrators.

First and foremost, it is offensive and upsetting to think that because of your gender, your sport is looked upon as less, Field said. We work just as hard as the mens teams.

Title IX is the 1972 federal legislation that says no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

The score was tied 0-0, and the second sudden-death overtime period was set to begin when the game was stopped. That would have been followed, if necessary, by a penalty stroke shootout.

The game began at 9 a.m. and both schools had in May been informed that they would need to vacate the field by 10:30 a.m. due to fire marshal regulations, even though the fireworks didnt start until noon.

However, Ralph said the written contract for the game had no mention of a 10:30 a.m. stop and that Kent State failed to communicate what steps would be taken if the game was still in progress at that time.

Kent State Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen on Monday issued a statement with an apology to all involved.

On behalf of the Kent State University athletic department, I would like to apologize to the University of Maine and Temple University for the decisions made surrounding the field hockey contest, he said. 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.

The National Field Hockey Coaches Association issued a statement condemning Kent States actions. The release was authored by NFHCA President Andy Whitcomb and NFHCA Executive Director Jenn Goodrich, who is a Kent State alum and the schools former head coach.

Title IX is great, but Title IX exists. The fact it has to exist for us to receive rights to be equal is self-explanatory, Field said.

Babineau said seeing how much each player gives of herself physically, mentally and emotionally to the team and to their school, only to have the right to finish a game taken away from them, left them feeling that their talent, effort and sacrifice are not valued.

We need to do everything we can to make sure they never have to experience these feelings again, Babineau said. All of our student-athletes are invaluable to our university, and treating people fairly is the most important aspect of everything we do.

Ricker also said female athletes from across the country have reached out and shared their personal experiences with us.

However, there also have been derogatory tweets in regard to field hockey and womens sports, Field said.

The NFHCA reviewed the situation and lambasted Kent States handling of it, specifically prioritizing a daytime fireworks display over the completion of a field hockey game.

[It] sends a terrible message to female student-athletes. This decision was extremely damaging not only for the participating athletes, their coaches and their families but for all female student-athletes, the NFHCA said.

[Kent State] let down the field hockey community and its supporters as a whole. We all live by core values, including integrity and respect, and in this case we undoubtedly fell short, he said.

UMaine played Kent State on Sunday and lost 2-1. After the contest, Kent State players embraced the Black Bears and many shed some tears, Babineau said, adding that Kent State coaches and players were embarrassed by what transpired.

One of their players made a very emotional statement about how proud they were of our team and for the social media attention it drew, said Babineau, who applauded her players for the classy way they handled the situation.

The NCAA field hockey committee still has not determined the official outcome of the game, although it initially was deemed a no contest. It could be called a tie, although there are no tie games in field hockey.

Ralph said if the NCAA ultimately allowed the teams to play again, they would have to play a complete game rather than pick up where they left off. The NFHCA suggested that, in the event of a rematch, Kent State should be responsible for the costs incurred by both teams.


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