Con­fer­ence to play Fri­day night games next sea­son

New sched­ule ‘ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing’ to MPSSAA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Sparks

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

The Big Ten Con­fer­ence un­veiled a plan Wed­nes­day to play prime-time foot­ball games Fri­day nights be­gin­ning in 2017.

The games that will be cho­sen for next sea­son will be an­nounced as soon as next week.

Ac­cord­ing to Big Ten as­so­ci­ate com­mis­sioner Mark Rud­ner, the league will have 18 prime-time games next sea­son, with six on Fri­days and the re­main­ing 10 on Satur­days.

The sched­ule is part of new agree­ments the Big Ten has with ESPN/ABC and Fox, which to­gether cur­rently air six prime­time games each sea­son.

“We wanted to be able to cre­ate more prime-time ex­po­sure in our con­fer­ence for more pro­grams,” Rud­ner said Wed­nes­day. “We wanted to cre­ate a new op­por­tu­nity for sig­nif­i­cant ex­po­sure and a more cre­ative use of our na­tional plat­forms for Big Ten foot­ball.”

Penn State an­nounced that it wouldn’t play at home on a Fri­day night, and com­mis­sioner Jim De­lany said Michi­gan has not agreed to play on a Fri­day night. Ohio State is will­ing to host once ev­ery three years but only dur­ing the school’s fall break, while Ne­braska will host once ev­ery three years with no con­di­tions. Iowa and Michi­gan State want to host only on La­bor Day week­end.

Ac­cord­ing to Rud­ner, the num­ber of Fri­day night col­lege games is on the up­swing, from 53 in 2014 to 65 this sea­son. The move to Fri­days af­fects about 6 per­cent of the 95 foot­ball games played in the Big Ten next sea­son and for the sub­se­quent five, and Rud­ner added that there are no plans to play even ear­lier in the week. Un­til now, the league has re­sisted play­ing on week­nights ex­cept for the open­ing week of the sea­son.

Rud­ner said Big Ten com­mis­sioner Jim De­lany con­tacted high school foot­ball com­mis­sions in the 11 states where the Big Ten schools are lo­cated about the de­ci­sion.

“All things con­sid­ered,” De­lany said, “we thought it was worth­while to dip our toe in the wa­ter.”

Andy Warner, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land Public Se­condary Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion, said De­lany called him Wed­nes­day morn­ing to in­form him of the sched­ul­ing change, but he was not con­sulted be­fore­hand.

A for­mer Here­ford stu­dent-ath­lete and Mary­land grad­u­ate who suc­ceeded long­time MPSSAA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ned

Sparks in Au­gust 2015, Warner called the Big Ten’s Fri­day night sched­ul­ing an “ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing” chal­lenge to high schools in Mary­land and across the league’s ge­o­graphic foot­print.

“Fri­day night high school sports has been a long-stand­ing tra­di­tion, and the tele­casts of these col­le­gians, and go­ing into the Big Ten now ... is re­ally go­ing to chal­lenge and have pro­found ef­fects on the schools that rely on those gate re­ceipts from those nights,” Warner told The Bal­ti­more Sun in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “There’s re­ally noth­ing like it in our coun­try — a Fri­day night at one of our high schools.”

Fri­day nights have been the ideal show­cases for stu­dent events, Warner said. Mov­ing a fall foot­ball game, school play or cheer­lead­ing com­pe­ti­tion to Thurs­day, for in­stance, would mean chal­leng­ing the NFL’s “Thurs­day Night Foot­ball” games and ESPN’s Thurs­day night col­lege sched­ule the night be­fore the typ­i­cal end of the school week.

“You would think that we’d be all work­ing to­ward a com­mon goal of stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion, whether it’s col­le­gian stu­dent-ath­letes or high school stu­dent-ath­letes,” Warner said.

He added: “Be­ing a part of the con­ver­sa­tion is al­ways nice, but you have to be asked to be part of the con­ver­sa­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.