Updated on Tuesday, Sep. 10, at 1:25 a.m.
Kent State University’s Athletics Department abruptly called off a field hockey game in progress between Temple University and the University of Maine on Saturday to prepare a fireworks display for Kent State’s football game.
Temple (2-1, 0-0 Big East Conference) was preparing to play its second overtime period against the University of Maine (0-3, 0-0 America East Conference) when both teams were informed the game would be called off.
Temple field hockey first wrote on Twitter that there was a “field issue” and the game could not be completed. The Maine field hockey Twitter account announced that the game was called off to allow a fireworks display to take place at the Golden Flashes’ football field, adjacent to the field hockey pitch.
“The circumstances that prevented the completion of our field hockey contest against Maine on Saturday are simply unacceptable and our student-athletes and coaches deserved better,” wrote Temple Athletics Director Patrick Kraft in a statement on Monday, adding that “fairness and equality are essential in the mission of college sports.”
The teams weren’t informed prior to the 9 a.m. game that there was a deadline of 10:30 a.m. to finish the contest, and Kent State offered to resume the game at 5:30 p.m., which was impossible for Temple because of transportation arrangements back to Philadelphia, according to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
The NFHCA could find neither the reference to a “hard stop” in the game contract, nor an outline of what Kent State officials should do if the game ran too long.
Kent State Field Hockey released a statement on Saturday, stating that the athletes and visitors’ safety ahead of the fireworks display was their “first consideration.”
“We regret today’s 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 statement reads.
Kent State could not be reached for additional comment, and the game currently appears on Temple’s schedule as a scrimmage with no score.
“We see this as a terrible message being communicated to female student-athletes in this year of 2019. 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 in a statement on Monday.
The NFHCA also called on Kent State to compensate both teams.
Coach Susan Ciufo said that both teams tried to find a solution that would allow the game to be completed. Kent State denied the teams’ suggestion to go directly to a shootout to determine a winner, she added.
“I feel like our girls are feeling thankful that Temple is where we are and that we do have support from our department,” Ciufo told The Temple News on Monday. “We know that something like this would never happen here. I think that as much as it is something that is unfortunate that happened to them, they’re ready to move on to the next game.”
Temple field hockey players were not made available for comment.
“To finish a game is 110 percent a right, not an opportunity,” said Black Bears coach Josette Babineau in a press conference on Monday afternoon. “Title IX is great, but Title IX exists. And that in itself shows that Title IX has to exist for us to receive rights, to be equal, is just self-explanatory.”
Title IX, a federal law, states that “[n]o 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.”
Ciufo is unsure if the game will be completed due to the distance between Philadelphia and Orono, Maine, and because the rest of the season’s schedule is already set.
“We would love for there to be a direct solution in terms of reimbursement,” Ciufo said. “But I think looking at the bigger picture, a positive would be that nothing like this ever happens again.”