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.”
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.