Kent State catches heat for disrupting overtime field hockey match for football fireworks

Kent State University came under fire Saturday after a field hockey match was stopped going into the middle of double overtime in order for the school to launch fireworks before a football game.

The No. 24 Maine Black Bears and the Temple Owls were playing field hockey and both teams were in a scoreless tie and going into double overtime before Kent State officials told both coaches the game had to end because of fire marshal regulations regarding the football fireworks, ESPN reported.

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Kent State held their home opener at noon against Kennesaw State. The field hockey game was ruled a scrimmage.

Kent State Field Hockey said in a tweet the game “had to be stopped” over the guidelines “previously discussed.”

However, the National Field Hockey Coaches Association called the university’s decision “unacceptable.” The group said both teams were told of a 10:30 a.m. stoppage time in May but Kent State “failed to communicate the steps that would be taken should the 10:30 a.m. hard stop be reached.”

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“The NFHCA Office has reviewed the game contract and cannot find any reference to the 10:30 a.m. hard stop nor can we find any information regarding what would happen if the game was not completed prior to reaching the ‘drop dead’ time,” NFHCA president Andy Whitcomb and executive director Jenn Goodrich said in a statement. “While we are aware of the fact that Kent State officials offered to complete the game at 5:30 p.m. and pay hotel costs for the Temple team, we find their lack of preparedness and the timing of their response to be unacceptable.”

Temple coach Susan Ciufo also ripped the decision to stop the game.

“I think it's just where we're at with female sports,” she told ESPN. “As much as we have come a long way, there's still a long way to go. Saturday is the perfect example. To kick off two Division I teams when they're about to go into double overtime for fireworks is just, it's beyond me. I think it's a disgrace to both programs, the families and the schools. I wish there was some better decision-making throughout the process in recognizing what this could mean in the bigger picture moving forward.”

Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen apologized to the student-athletes and coaches from both teams Monday.

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“In hindsight, a different decision should have been made to ultimately ensure the game reached its conclusion,” Nielsen said in a statement. “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.”