An investigation into the controversial cancellation of a Temple University field hockey game against the University of Maine last month found no evidence of gender-based discrimination, according to an announcement from Kent State University President Todd Diacon on Oct 4.
The match between Temple and Maine at Kent State was canceled before the second overtime to set up a fireworks display for Kent State’s football game later that day on Sept. 7.
Kent State’s office of compliance, equal opportunity, and affirmative action began its investigation on Sept. 13, and the summary was released on Sept. 20.
During the investigation, Interim Title IX Coordinator Pamela Fitzgerald and Trent Stratton, the deputy Title IX coordinator for athletics, completed interviews beginning on Sept. 17.
Temple field hockey coach Susan Ciufo spoke to Stratton on Sept. 17 over the phone, according to the report. Ciufo told Stratton initially both Temple and Maine agreed to play at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 7, which would not have conflicted with the scheduled fireworks event later that day at noon.
Kent State field hockey coach Kyle DeSandes-Moyer later informed both teams via email that Murphy-Mellis Field did not have lights, which required the game to be played at 9 a.m. In the report, Ciufo told Stratton that the teams and Kent State did not discuss what would happen if the game passed 10:30 a.m. when the fireworks were supposed to be set up.
Stratton also spoke with Maine field hockey coach Josette Babineau over the phone on Sept. 18. Babineau indicated the requirement to end the game by 10:30 a.m. was never fully discussed ahead of time.
Fitzgerald and Stratton spoke to Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielsen in person on Sept. 18. The report states, “Nielsen assumed [the stop time] was discussed with the teams involved and everyone was aware.”
Fitzgerald and Stratton concluded there was “no evidence to suggest that gender was the basis or even a consideration in the decisions made regarding the September 7th game.”
According to the report, there was enough evidence to conclude the game was canceled “due to the safety concerns and preparation involved in the launch of the football game fireworks.”
Temple Athletics declined to comment on the report.
In a statement to The Temple News, Tyson McHaten, Maine’s senior associate director of athletics, acknowledged the investigation’s findings.
“We…are disappointed that, according to the summary report, the investigation did not include interviews with the student-athletes who were affected and disrespected by the decisions made on Sept. 7.”
“We appreciate, welcome and encourage the broader discussion of Title IX issues sparked by this incident and the investigation,” the statement reads.
The NCAA ruled that the game is incomplete unless Temple and Maine schedule a meeting to play the ten minutes of overtime and a shootout if needed. No statistics from the game will count.
Nielson told Fitzgerald and Stratton that Kent State’s Athletics department is working on a plan to ensure such a situation will not occur again.
In an email, Diacon stated he has offered to pay Temple and Maine the potential cost of travel if the teams make-up the game.