Temple field hockey captains describe frustration, confusion following Kent State call-off decision

Since the match, the University of Maine has filed a complaint with Kent State’s Title IX administrators.

Temple field hockey coach Susan Ciufo watches from the sideline during the team’s home opener against Merrimack on Aug. 30. Ciufo and her team were not allowed to finish their game against University of Maine on Saturday at Kent State. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University field hockey players and coaches are hoping their match against the University of Maine will end in a tie after it was called off abruptly on Saturday at Kent State University. 

This was the first time the players were made available for comment since their neutral-site match was abruptly called off by the Kent State Athletics Department to set up a fireworks display for its football team. 

Senior forwards and Captains Lucy Reed and Cristen Barnett described Saturday’s events frustrating. 

“I think it’s frustrating, I think that’s the best adjective to use,” Reed said. “Hopefully the NCAA will find a solution for it, hopefully we end up with that tie in the books.”

The game was entering double overtime when it was called off. It is now listed as a scoreless scrimmage. 

Since the match, the University of Maine filed a complaint with Kent State’s Title IX administrators, The Temple News confirmed Tuesday.

“Elizabeth Lavoie the Deputy Title IX and Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Coordinator at the University of Main[e] campus, filed the complaint with the Kent State Administration,” wrote Associate Athletic Director for Compliance Samantha Hegmann in an email to The Temple News.

Reed said she wasn’t sure if the situation would have occurred if it were men on the field.

“I know that our athletic department would never put [one] sport above another, female or male,” Reed said. “Everyone is on an equal platform.”

Reed and Barnett both said there was “confusion” when officials first met with the coaches to suspend the game.

“It was said that the fire marshal needed us evacuated,” Barnett said. “So my first thought was, ‘We’re in danger. We need to be safe, get in a safe zone,’ but then finding out that it was for fireworks for a football game. [We were] just initially very disappointed, very confused.”

Barnett believes the decision sent a disappointing message.

“It’s telling us that these fireworks, and setting up for a football game, is more important than finishing our Division I contest,” Barnett said. “A contest that we’ve been working since last January for. … But there’s months that we put into this, in the spring and the offseason and then over the summer, and we come back here. And those are the games we fight for and work for.

“And to have that pulled from us, it sends a message that all that hard work, why are we doing it?” she added.

Barnett, who is from Ohio, had family and friends present at the game. She said they were confused and “disappointed with Kent State as a whole.”

Ciufo also addressed the media Tuesday afternoon.

“It wasn’t necessarily Kent State versus Temple and Maine, it wasn’t necessarily field hockey versus football or fireworks,” Ciufo said. “This was something that we felt was deeper. And it really for us, the way we view it, regardless of what would have happened to a men’s soccer program or not, it happened to a women’s field hockey program.”

Ciufo said the situation is a chance to show that, “there still needs to be some more change.”

“I think that no female athlete, or female in general, should feel that they are lucky to do what they do, or that it’s an opportunity,” Ciufo added.

On Monday afternoon, Kent State Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen issued a statement of apology. 

“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 this weekend. 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. 

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. 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. 

We will take this opportunity to learn from our mistakes. 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. I wish the field hockey teams from both the University of Maine and Temple University the very best this season.”

Tuesday evening, USA Field Hockey commented on the incident.

“The appearance is that the student-athletes playing field hockey were not given the appropriate opportunity to complete their game due to circumstances around the start of the football pre-game fireworks and competition to follow,” wrote USA Field Hockey Executive Director Simon Hoskins.

“As the National Governing Body for the sport of field hockey, we at USA Field Hockey are passionate that all who participate in this sport are given a fair opportunity to compete. Not allowing the teams to continue the contest following a single overtime and scoreless game hinders that chance and diminishes acceptance of field hockey. As we continue to grow this sport in the United States, this situation makes it even more difficult to empower our athletes and field hockey community.”

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