Updated 1:50 p.m.
Daytime fireworks before a football game are more important than women’s field hockey.
That’s the “disappointing” message Kent State sent when it cut short a game involving a team from Temple University on Saturday, according to Temple’s sports department and a national association of field hockey coaches.
“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,” Patrick Kraft, Temple’s director of athletics, said in a statement issued Monday.
Kent State apologized for the school’s decision to boot the players from the field before their game had concluded in a statement shared with Billy Penn Monday afternoon.
“In hindsight, a different decision should have been made to ultimately ensure the game reached its conclusion,” Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen said. “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.”
Nielsen added that the school’s procedures have been updated to avoid a similar situation in the future.
Temple field hockey head coach Susan Ciufo called the events “unfortunate.”
The 9 a.m. field hockey game, being played at a neutral site between Philly and No. 24-ranked Maine, ran late when it went into double overtime. That interfered with the fireworks display slated to precede a midday football matchup between Kent State and Kennesaw State.
Officials from the Ohio university had notified the field hockey coaches about a deadline in a May scheduling email, but “failed to communicate the steps that would be taken should the 10:30 a.m. hard stop be reached,” per an official statement from the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA).
“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,” The NFHCA wrote. “This decision was extremely damaging not only for the participating athletes, their coaches, and their families but for all female student-athletes.”
The association also called on Kent State administration to “do some soul searching,” about their “poor decision-making.”
Field hockey games are made up of 15-minute quarters, two 10-minute overtime periods and, if no points have been scored, a penalty stroke shootout. On Saturday, it’s likely there were about 15 to 20 minutes left, at most. But that was apparently too long to wait for the daytime fireworks.
Because of the premature ending and tie score, the game will only count as a scrimmage.
The incident highlights an ongoing narrative in the sporting world that women’s teams are less valued — and less valuable — than men’s.
Professionally, that narrative often shows itself in salary disparity. Forbes reported the highest WNBA salary last season was $117,500 compared to the highest NBA salary, which was $37.4 million. Similarly, the National Pro Fastpitch softball league has a $175,000 salary cap compared to a $227 million payroll recorded by the Boston Red Sox in 2019.
Kent State issued a statement Saturday afternoon via Twitter, saying, “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.”
Kent State football edged out Kennesaw State by 3 points in overtime.