Office of Compliance, EOAA/Title IX Investigation Summary Report
DIVISION OF HUMAN RESOURCES
OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Office of Compliance, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA)
Trent Stratton, Associate Athletic Director & Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics
RE: Field Hockey game on September 7, 2019 University of Maine vs. Temple University
Synopsis of events:
Kent State University (KSU) Field Hockey team participated in a round-robin field hockey tournament beginning on Sept. 6, 2019, against Temple University. On Sept. 7, 2019, University of Maine (UMaine) and Temple played one another, and Kent State played UMaine on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. All the games were hosted and played at Kent State Murphy-Mellis Field, north of Dix Stadium. The game on Sept. 7, 2019, began at 9 a.m. between UMaine and Temple. The game ran through regulation time with one overtime (OT) period played. Kent State men’s football was scheduled to play Kennesaw State University at Dix Stadium with a noon kick-off and fireworks during the game. At the conclusion of the 10-minute OT, the field hockey game was still zero to zero. SWA Densevich, Senior Woman Administrator for Kent State approached both UMaine and Temple field hockey coaches Ms. Babineau and Ms. Ciufo to see if they were willing to conclude the game later that day at 5:30 p.m. UMaine was already scheduled and planned to stay overnight to play Kent State on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, however Temple was not scheduled to play in Kent on Sunday nor planned to stay overnight on Saturday.
Scope of investigation:
- Phone interview with Susan Ciufo, Field Hockey Head Coach, Temple University on Sept. 17, 2019
- Interview with Jeff Coffee, Lieutenant, Fire Prevention Bureau, city of Kent Fire Department on Sept. 17, 2019
- Interview with Deputy AD Cegles, Deputy Athletic Director of External Operations, KSU Department of Athletics on Sept. 17, 2019
- Interview with SWA Densevich, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator on September 17, 2019 (SWA Densevich)
- Interview with Sean Lewis, Football Head Coach on September 17, 2019
- Interview with Kyle DeSandes-Moyer, Field Hockey Head Coach on September 17, 2019
- Interview with David Rush, Assistant Athletic Director, Facilities & Operations on September 17, 2019
- Interview with Field House Manager Croghan, Field House Facility Manager on September 17, 2019
- Phone interview with Josette Babineau, Field Hockey Head Coach, University of Maine
- Interview with Joel Nielsen, Director of Athletics on September 18, 2019
- Reviewed Athletic Agreements dated July 18, 2019 between Kent State, University of Maine and Temple universities
- Reviewed email communications provided by David Rush, Kyle DeSandes-Moyer, Deputy AD Cegles and SWA Densevich
- Reviewed text messages between Kyle DeSandes-Moyer and Field House Manager Croghan
- Reviewed text messages between Kyle DeSandes-Moyer and Josette Babineau
- Reviewed map of Murphy-Mellis field at Kent State University
- Onsite visit to Murphy-Mellis field and fireworks set-up location on September 18, 2019
At the request of the Office of the University President, EOAA was asked to investigate the events surrounding the field hockey game between University of Maine vs. Temple University that occurred on September 7, 2019 at 9:00am at Murphy-Mellis Field.
On September 13, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics, Trent Stratton, met to discuss an investigation plan and developed a list of individuals to interview regarding this matter.
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton conducted a phone interview with Field Hockey Coach Susan Ciufo from Temple University. Coach Ciufo indicated the conversation about playing at Kent was initiated by the previous field hockey coach prior to her becoming the head coach at Temple in January 2019. In May 2019, she states there were discussions that an afternoon (1:00pm) game could not occur due to the football game that was scheduled at noon on September 7, 2019. Coach Ciufo states, initially there was an option for a 9:00am or 5:30pm game start and both Temple and UMaine opted for the 5:30pm option, however Coach Kyle DeSandes-Moyer later came back to them in an email and stated that 5:30pm was no longer an option due to the field not having lights and 9:00am was the only option. Coach Ciufo stated the fireworks were discussed as part of the football game day and that setup would start at 10:30am, but nothing was discussed regarding what would happen if the field hockey game was still underway at 10:30. Furthermore, Coach Ciufo stated there were no additional discussions with her about the field hockey game ending at 10:30, including on the day before the game (Friday), nor prior to the start of the game on Saturday. According to Coach Ciufo, this topic did not come again until game day (September 7th) the end of regulation period, and at that time she was told that one OT would be played. Coach Ciufo stated that at the end of the OT, both SWA Densevich and Coach DeSandes-Moyer came on the field and stopped the game. At this time, both the Temple and Maine coaches were advocating for some type of modification to complete the game but there was no compromise. Coach Ciufo stated she believes this was an unfortunate situation and believes it would have happened regardless of who was on the field. Coach Ciufo stated, “what this boils down to is a scheduling conflict and going forward things need to be put in place to address these issues.”
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed Lt. Jeffrey Coffee from City of Kent Fire Department. Lt. Coffee stated that he attended the pre-meetings held by Kent State athletics administrators to discuss the logistics of the fireworks for the first home game at Kent State on September 7, 2019. Lt. Coffee and other City of Kent Fire officials were responsible for overseeing the firework inspections and set-up once the fireworks arrived onsite. Lt. Coffee explained that the fireworks were scheduled to arrive between 10:30-10:45am., and that once the fireworks arrive onsite to the location they cannot be unloaded from the truck, inspected or setup until the exclusion and fallout zones are cleared. He further explained that the clearance zone minimum requirements are 70-feet radius per 1” of shell. Kent State was using 3” shells on September 7, 2019; therefore, the clearance radius needed was 210-feet. In addition to ensuring the clearance of the area, Lt. Coffee had the responsibility of wetting the field hockey field with water to prevent burnout of the turf from fireworks fallout, inspecting the fireworks launchers, and ensuring the fireworks were launched by American Fireworks using “E-Match.” Lt. Coffee stated that someone from Kent State did approach fire personnel and asked if a delay in set-up could occur. Lt. Coffee said he told that person from Kent State that it was KSU’s decision, but they needed to know a delay in setup would also cause a delay in the launch.
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed Casey Cegles, Deputy Athletic Director of External Operations. Deputy AD Cegles stated the Field Hockey schedule was established prior to Coach DeSandes-Moyer being hired in February 2019. Deputy AD Cegles stated the football game schedule and time for September 7, 2019 were set and established in March 2019 with athletic administrators collaborating with Shay Little, PhD., Division of Student Affairs Vice President, Lamar Hylton, PhD., Dean of Students, and Timeka Thomas Rashid, PhD., Associate Dean of Students for coordination of the KSU Parents & Families weekend events. Deputy AD Cegles stated fireworks have for some time been a part of the “game day experience” as a way to increase attendance and participation at the football events. Deputy AD Cegles stated that to his recollection when the conflict was discovered it was discussed and decided there were no other viable alternatives to playing the game at Kent. So, Deputy AD Cegles, David Rush, SWA Densevich met to try and figure out a resolution for a neutral site for a field hockey game and a noon kick-off football game. In this meeting, they discussed the field hockey rule of a 24-hour period between games for recovery. They also discussed whether the field hockey game should be played before or after the noon football game. The disadvantage of playing after the football game was that there are no lights on Murphy-Mellis field should the football game run over. Also, a late field hockey game on Saturday would mean a late game start on Sunday, and UMaine had a departing flight at 6:40pm on Sunday. Between the three (3) KSU athletic administrators, it was determined that the 9:00am was the best option for field hockey to play and be done by 10:30am., accounting for safety precautions fireworks setup. They also agreed that SWA Densevich would disseminate this information.
On game day (September 7), Deputy AD Cegles stated that David Rush, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities & Operations contacted him during half-time of the field hockey game (about 9:45am) and asked if 10:30am was a “hard-stop” for the field hockey game. Deputy AD Cegles confirmed it was a hard-stop. According to Deputy AD Cegles, it was not until the half-time period of the football game between Kent State and Kennesaw State University that he found out that the field hockey game between UMaine and Temple did not finish, because a former KSU employee was tweeting unpleasantries about it. Deputy AD Cegles immediately informed Athletic Director Joel Nielsen and Senior Vice President Karen Clarke and her staff in the Division of Strategic Communications and External Affairs to figure out how to respond.
Deputy AD Cegles added that he’s aware of a similar situation like this happening in 2016 with the field hockey team playing at 11:30am and a football game kick-off at 1:00pm and the fireworks were canceled for that football game.
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed Amy Densevich, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. SWA Denesevich explained that her role in this situation was to help coordinate games scheduled by the previous field hockey coaching staff. In May 2019, it was determined that there was a schedule conflict with field hockey and football. She, David Rush and Deputy AD Cegles discussed ways to accommodate the conflict. The game time options were 9:00am and 5:30pm, but with the possibility of a game delay at 5:30pm and no lights on the field, the 9:00am was decided the better option. On game day (September 7th), Ms. Densevich was not at the field hockey game, but was called by Coach DeSandes-Moyer to come to the field because the game was tied zero to zero and there was potentially going to be an issue. SWA Densevich stated she spoke with both visiting head coaches after playing regulation about playing only one OT due to safety concerns regarding clearing the field for fireworks, and as a temporary resolution at that moment. SWA Densevich offered both teams the option to return at 5:30pm that same day to conclude the game, and offered Temple University’s team an additional overnight stay at Kent State’s expense since Temple was planning to leave at the conclusion of that morning’s game. UMaine was already scheduled to stay due overnight that night, due to the game against Kent State on Sunday at 11:00am. SWA Densevich alleges that both Temple and UMaine coaches knew about the stop time and were offered a possible resolution.
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed Sean Lewis, Football Head Coach. Mr. Lewis states that he had no knowledge of what occurred with the field hockey game until his assistant sent him a screenshot of a social media post. Mr. Lewis added that he was never contacted by anyone regarding canceling or delaying the fireworks.
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed Kyle DeSandes-Moyer, Field Hockey Head Coach. Coach DeSandes-Moyer was hired in February 2019 and indicated that the field hockey schedule was already completed prior to her joining Kent State. In March 2019, Coach DeSandes-Moyer realized there was a conflict with the field hockey and football games scheduled for September 7th. She indicated that she knew it was Parents and Families weekend and there was a noon kick-off time for football.
On May 16, 2019, Coach DeSandes-Moyer sent an email to both Coach Babineau and Coach Ciufo indicating that the early 9:00am game would require the area being cleared by 10:30am and on June 2, 2019, Coach DeSandes-Moyer sent a text message to Coach Babineau indicating that Coach Ciufo had confirmed the 9:00am start time.
Coach DeSandes-Moyer stated that in the field hockey world, it is normal practice to agree on a competition date and then determine a game time later, and that usually 1:00pm is a normal start time for field hockey games.
Additionally, Coach DeSandes-Moyer stated that they try to provide 24-hours between games for recovery, and a 9:00am start time is uncharacteristic for a field hockey game, but that the coaches had agreed to it.
Coach DeSandes-Moyer further stated that the week of the September 7 game, she started discussing alternatives with the field house manager Field House Manager Croghan so that the game could be concluded in time. Alternatives discussed included running the clock (deemed not an option); no video review (deemed a viable option); and no overtime, just penalty shots (deemed not an option).
Coach DeSandes-Moyer was present in the stands at the game and began receiving text messages from Field House Manager Croghan indicating his concern with the game ending at 10:30am. At some point, Coach DeSandes-Moyer left the stands and went on to the field to join SWA Densevich. It was at this time that SWA Densevich told the two visiting coaches after regulation that 10:30am is the end time. Coach DeSandes-Moyer states that Temple Coach Ciufo seemed shocked. The two teams were permitted to play one OT in an attempt to conclude the game. At the end of the OT, the score was still zero to zero and SWA Densevich approached both coaches, advising them that the game had to end and presenting the option of concluding the game later that day at 5:30pm. That suggestion was declined by Temple Coach Ciufo.
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed David Rush, Assistant Athletic Director, Facilities & Operations. AA Director Rush creates the contracts for field hockey. In doing so, he noticed there was a conflict with the home football game and a tentative 1:00pm start time for the field hockey game between UMaine and Temple. He met with SWA Densevich and Deputy AD Cegles to discuss the conflict and determined that 9:00am was the best time for the field hockey game to start. On game day (September 7th) he was contacted by the field house manager Field House Manager Croghan indicating the game was tied and asking what was “plan B.” AA Director Rush contacted Deputy AD Cegles to see if 10:30am was a “hard stop” and indicated that Deputy AD Cegles said the answer was “yes.” AA Director Rush relayed this message to Field House Manager Croghan. AA Director Rush did speak with the City of Kent Fire personnel while he was unlocking the gate for them to enter the area where the fireworks would be set-up. It was Mr. Rush’s understanding that once Fire Marshal was onsite, they assume authority over the operations of the fireworks.
On September 17, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed Mark Croghan, Field House Manager, Field House Manager Croghan was aware of the weekend’s festivities as they approached but was not involved in any of the planning. He had a meeting in August 2019 about the game day operations and it was discussed that there was a 10:30am stoppage time. Field House Manager Croghan was under the impression that everyone knew about the 10:30am stoppage. He stated that there was some communication among himself, Coach DeSandes-Moyer and SWA Densevich before half-time about the game ending at 10:30am. It was at the end of the OT period when Field House Manager Croghan sent a message to the game announcer in the box to announce that the game would resume at 5:30pm, while SWA Densevich and Coach DeSandes-Moyer were down on the field having a conversation with the UMaine and Temple coaches. He states that he had no knowledge of whether conversations about the 10:30 end time had occurred with the two visiting coaches prior to game day.
On September 18, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton conducted a phone interview with Josette Babineau, Field Hockey Head Coach, University of Maine. Coach Babineau stated that they were playing a 9:00am game vs Temple on Saturday, September 7, 2019, and were playing KSU on Sunday, September 8, 2019, at 11:00am.
Coach Babineau indicated they were tied with Temple after regulation and as overtime was beginning, an administrator (SWA Densevich) approached her and tried to explain the situation. Coach Babineau Stated that she was only half listening to SWA Densevich because overtime had begun, and she was trying to focus on the game. She does remember hearing that this was the only overtime being played and if the game was still tied after this overtime then the teams would need to come back at 5:30pm to resume. After OT, the game was still tied, and the PA announcer stated that the teams would resume play at 5:30pm. Coach Babineau indicated that all three coaches and SWA Densevich met mid-field to discuss a solution. She further stated that this was not an ideal situation, but that UMaine was willing to return at 5:30 that evening since they were already staying overnight to play the next day. She stated that communication leading up to this was stressful. She stated that the communications started in May, and that there was plenty of email and phone conversation about start times. The teams were initially given an option of 9:00am or 5:30pm, but then later the only option was 9:00am. She further stated that the contracts didn’t come until July 2019, and there was some concern whether Temple was going to commit to playing due to the 9:00am start time. Coach Babineau stated that the reason for the early game time or for the 10:30am stoppage was never discussed ahead of time. She only knew that there was a football game and festivities around the game. She remembered the field hockey regulation and OT ending around 10:45, and that by the time she talked to her team and they left the area it was about 11:20am.
On September 18, 2019, Interim Title IX Coordinator Fitzgerald and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Stratton interviewed Joel Nielsen, Director of Athletics. AD Nielsen explained how schedules get created and how head coaches and sport administrators do most of the negotiating and figuring out what’s best and when the contract is created, and that AD Nielsen signs off on the contracts. He recalls that in May or June 2019, it was mentioned that there was a possible conflict, after the official football start time (12noon) was determined. AD Nielsen was onboard with an early kick time because he felt this would influence the game attendance. AD Nielsen stated that historically, when a home game was held during Parent and Families day, attendance tends to be better when there is an earlier kick time. AD Nielsen further stated that there were no initial red flags because they have schedule simultaneous games among the various intercollegiate teams before and there has never been a problem. AD Nielsen did not recall specifically when but stated that he knew field hockey and football have played at the same time and that there was some overlap. AD Nielsen did not recall noticing on the contract what the start time was but remembered thinking that the coaches must have gotten it figured out. Furthermore, AD Nielsen recalled that at a football game ops meeting, Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities & Operations David Rush mentioned that there was a hard 10:30 stop time, due to safety and fireworks setup. AD Nielsen assumed it was discussed with the teams involved and everyone was aware.
AD Nielsen did not attend the field hockey game on September 7, 2019 but was made aware by Deputy AD Cegles that there were some upset from the field hockey game not finishing earlier that day. AD Nielsen spoke with SWA Densevich multiple times during the football game, and informed President Diacon during the second half of the football game of the situation earlier in the day with field hockey. Lastly, AD Nielsen stated that there is a contingency plan being developed by staff in Athletics, led by David Rush. Once the plan has been developed it will be reviewed and approved by AD Nielsen. AD Nielsen stated that “this will never happen again.”
University policy 5-16(C)(2) defines unlawful discrimination as:
Unlawful discrimination. An intentional or unintentional act that adversely treats or impacts an individual in a protected category in employment, in academic or non-academic decision making based on the protected category.
University policy 5-16.2(C)(1) defines gender-based discrimination as:
Gender based discrimination. Title VII, Title IX, Chapter 4112 of the Revised Code, and rule 3342-5-16 of the Administrative Code, prohibit unlawful discrimination on the basis of gender or sex. All persons are protected from unlawful discrimination.
After careful consideration and review of the statements provided, the Office of Compliance, EOAA found no evidence to suggest that gender was the basis or even a consideration in the decisions made regarding the September 7th game.
The decision to end the game at 10:30am was made well in advance prior to the teams even arriving at Kent State to play. Email communications among the three coaches dating back to May 2019 substantiate that the visiting coaches were made aware that the area and game needed to be cleared at 10:30am. Furthermore, Coach DeSandes-Moyer sent a text to Coach Babineau confirming that Coach Ciufo agreed to the early 9:00am start time.
Evidence substantiates that the game ultimately concluded due to the safety concerns and preparation involved in the launch of the football game fireworks.
Lt. Coffee substantiated there needed to be a 210-feet radius of clearance for the exclusion and fallout zones and that included the field hockey field. Furthermore, Lt. Coffee indicated although a KSU staff member (later identified as David Rush) inquired about the possibility of the delaying the firework set-up, City of Kent Fire department never received word from KSU to do so.
Furthermore, SWA Densevich permitted the teams to play one OT period after regulation to see if the game could be concluded. When the game remained tied after the OT, she offered Coach Ciufo of Temple and her team complimentary overnight accommodations so they could conclude the game later that day at 5:30pm, but Coach Ciufo declined that offer and left.
Although Deputy AD Cegles recalled a similar situation occurring in 2016 with KSU Field Hockey vs. Lockhaven, and that situation resulted in the fireworks being canceled, EOAA has determined that there were different decision-makers involved during that time and that the KSU administrators and City of Kent Fire personnel at that time were not the same individuals involved with fireworks on September 7, 2019 at Murphy-Mellis field.
The general consensus among most the interviewees, regardless of affiliation, was that this situation should not have happened and occurred due to poor planning and poor communication. Although both teams were advised in an email communication dated May 2019 that the game had to be concluded by 10:30am on September 7, 2019, this point was evidently not made explicitly clear prior to the start of the game. Furthermore, EOAA found that the two visiting teams had no other option but to play at 9:00am or they would forfeit their game; however, due consideration was not given into what would happen if the game was not concluded at regulation.
Poor management of schedules aside, EOAA finds no evidence of discrimination in violation of the policies noted above.
The NCAA has also reviewed this situation. In an email communication provided by SWA Densevich, the NCAA issued an official ruling regarding this game, see excerpt below:
- Based on the information provided, the game has been ruled suspended/incomplete since the overtime and shoot-out procedures were not completed per Rule Modification No. 5 in the 2019 NCAA Field Hockey Rules Modifications (pages 8-11).
- Per NCAA Field Hockey Modification No. 4.5 (page 8), "A suspended game shall be resumed at the point of suspension."
- The "Incomplete Games" section (page no. 7) of the NCAA Field Hockey Statisticians' Manual, which is maintained by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association, states that "If the game is not continued, it is not completed and therefore the stats cannot be included in any manner." Therefore, the game may be completed by the end of the regular season, however, if this is not possible, the game will be considered a "no contest" for NCAA statistical purposes.
- For selection purposes, the Division I Field Hockey Committee has the ability to consider that the game took place and was tied 0-0 after 70 minutes of play as they evaluate all of the selection criteria in their deliberations during the selection process.
Please note that these same rules would apply in situations where other extenuating circumstances (e.g., inclement weather) may cause a game to be suspended prior to completion. Please also note the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Committee will review the applicable rules during its February 2020 annual meeting.
The athletic intercollegiate team schedules are prepared a year in advance and all teams should continue work collectively in planning and scheduling games, contests, scrimmages etc. to ensure this does not happen in the future. The development of the contingency plan should aid in this effort. Additionally, any changes or abnormalities to schedules, time changes etc. should be effectively communicated in writing, to all parties involved.
It should be noted for the record that both President Diacon and AD Nielsen have offered public apologies in this matter.
This concludes the investigation by the Interim Title IX Coordinator, Office of Compliance, Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics. For questions, please contact this office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-672-2038.
Willis Walker, Vice President, Office of General Counsel
David Ochmann, Associate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Office of General Counsel
F. Jack Witt, Vice President, Division of Human Resources