Kent State Canceled a Women’s Field Hockey Game for the Football Team’s Pre-Game Fireworks

A field hockey game at Kent State University was stopped by officials at the Ohio school last weekend in order to begin prep for fireworks that were set off before a football game, according to a report from CNN.

Temple University and the University of Maine were playing each other in a game that was about to enter a second overtime, Maine’s Coach Josette Babineau told CNN, when a Kent State employee stopped play. The teams were asked to leave the field so that staffers could prepare the fireworks for the football team, who were set to play on a different field.

The teams were told they could resume their game that evening — seven hours later.

In a tweet at the time, Maine’s field hockey team said the game had been declared a “no contest.” The team added in a later tweet that “the game will be classified as an exhibition, affecting neither team’s statistics or overall record. If more details reach us, we’ll be sure to share them.”

The National Field Hockey Coaches Association told ESPN in a statement that both Maine and Temple were aware that the game had to stop by 10:30 a.m., as outlined in a letter sent back in May, but didn’t specify steps should the end-time be reached.

In a statement Monday, Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielsen 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. 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,” according to ESPN.

The NCAA is in contact with both schools involved, it told CNN, but wouldn’t comment further.

In the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s statement, they called the overall decision “extremely damaging.”

“While we understand that the fireworks were deemed to be an important part of Kent State University’s Family Weekend festivities which featured the home football contest, 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,” said the association. “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 pre-game football festivities. We see this as a terrible message being communicated to female student-athletes in this year of 2019.”

Kent State did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.


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