Schedule error costs NU men’s basketball games, not money

A scheduling mistake had unfortunate consequences for the Niagara men’s basketball team, leading to the loss of two games. However, this blunder will not have a significant financial impact on the athletic department. Niagara was initially slated to participate in a multi-team event at Youngstown State from November 17-19, along with Utah Tech. Unfortunately, Niagara had to withdraw from the tournament due to their prior participation in a different multi-team event hosted by Youngstown State in 2021.

The NCAA has specific criteria for multi-team events, stating that a team can only participate in the same event once within a four-year period if it was hosted by the same institution. As per the contract for the 2023 event, which was obtained through a public records request, Niagara’s athletic department would owe Youngstown State $100,000 if they cancelled or failed to participate, unless both parties agreed to it in writing.

However, Niagara’s athletic director Simon Gray clarified that an agreement was reached between Niagara and Youngstown State to invalidate the contract for this year’s multi-team event. Consequently, Niagara is not obligated to pay the $100,000 fee.

In terms of the team’s schedule, early dates and opponents have been released for the upcoming Big 4 men’s and women’s basketball programs. There are already several intriguing matchups on the horizon. Niagara had originally been scheduled to face Utah Tech on November 18 and Youngstown State on November 19. Despite the setback, Niagara and Youngstown State made efforts to salvage the situation by submitting a waiver request to the NCAA, seeking exemptions for participation in the three-team event.

Correspondence and documents obtained through public records requests reveal that the athletic departments of both schools were in contact regarding the scheduling error as early as August. They discussed the process for applying for waivers to participate in the November tournament. However, on September 25, both schools received notification from the NCAA’s men’s basketball oversight committee that their request had been denied.

Rebecca Fink, Youngstown State’s senior associate athletic director, emailed Dedra Palmer, Niagara’s senior associate athletic director for internal operations, on August 30 to inform them of Youngstown State’s request for a waiver on behalf of both schools. The waiver request and the subsequent denial from the NCAA highlighted that there had been no compliance review of the multi-team event prior to the signing of the waiver. Additionally, it stated that the host school and the participating schools would face significant financial burdens if the event had to be cancelled.

The waiver request from Youngstown State also emphasized that all three teams involved would lose a valuable competition opportunity. It further noted that additional cancellations would need to be made, resulting in limited participation opportunities for the teams. Despite these arguments, the NCAA ultimately denied the waiver request, citing non-unique factors such as local scheduling conflicts and lack of communication among institutional officials.

Due to the lost games against Utah Tech and Youngstown State, Niagara will need to find replacements in other multi-team events. The team has already scheduled the maximum of nine nonconference games and is unable to schedule additional single games against nonconference opponents. As a result, Lake Erie College, a Division II program, will step in to replace Niagara in the multi-team event and serve as a co-host alongside Youngstown State.

Overall, the scheduling mishap has had its challenges, but with proper adjustments and the cooperation of all parties involved, the Niagara men’s basketball team will move forward and make the most of their upcoming games.


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