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Norfolk State Wants a Day Off; Delaware State Wants to Cash In
Delaware State wants a record pay day. Norfolk State just wants a day off.
The conference rivals, accustomed to knocking heads on the football field, are beginning early this year, in a tussle over scheduling.
The Hornets, hoping to bank $500,000 by playing at Michigan, have asked Norfolk State to move a game at Delaware State from Nov. 14 to Oct. 3. The problem, that’s the Spartans’ open date. Move the game, and NSU would play 10 straight weeks without a break - after four weeks of preseason camp.
That’s unacceptable, said school officials, who went on the public relations offensive by holding a news conference Friday. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schedule has been set for more than a year. Delaware State knew that when Michigan called, offering what is believed to be the most lucrative “guarantee” game in MEAC history.
“We should not have to be disadvantaged because another university did not respect the conference schedule,” NSU president Carolyn W. Meyers said.
Coach Pete Adrian and athletic director Marty Miller echoed those sentiments. Playing 10 straight weeks would be a hardship on players physically and academically, Adrian said. It also would put a team that expects to contend for a MEAC title at a competitive disadvantage.
“I’ve had several conversations with their football coach and he said he wouldn’t do it if it were the other way around,” Adrian said.
In the grind of a college football season, an open date is a chance to rest, heal and recharge. Norfolk State’s is timed perfectly, Adrian said. In years past, open dates have come too early to do the team much good. This year, if the Delaware State game is moved, it would come too late, before the last game of the season.
Many MEAC schools play lucrative guarantee games against Division I-A schools. Norfolk State, for example, played at Rutgers in 2007 and Kentucky last year, but scheduled the games so as not to conflict with MEAC dates.
Delaware State, on the other hand, “jumped the gun,” Adrian said.
“They went ahead and (scheduled Michigan) thinking that other people would move,” he said.
Late Friday afternoon, acting Delaware State president Claibourne Smith released a statement accusing Norfolk State of “jumping the gun” by holding a news conference while the schools are trying to sort out the matter privately.
“It is unclear to us why Norfolk State would hold a press conference that serves only to add a divisive atmosphere while the two institutions are working through the Office of the MEAC Commissioner to come to a resolution.
“DSU has been engaging in good faith negotiations with Norfolk State and the good offices of the MEAC commissioner concerning this issue, negotiations that are to be continued next week.”
Meyers and Miller said negotiations have been ongoing for several months, but that Delaware State hasn’t made any reasonable offers. Meyers said the school offered to pay NSU between $25,000 and $30,000 for its trouble, which would not cover the cost of traveling to Dover.
At any rate, it’s not about the money, it’s about fairness and playing by the rules, NSU officials said. Once scheduled, conference games can’t be changed unless both teams agree, Miller said.
As far as NSU is concerned, moving the game is not an option.
MEAC commissioner Dennis Thomas, who is attending the Final Four and could not be reached Friday, is expected to make a ruling next week. Given the turmoil, whenever the game is played, it should be a good one.
NSU wants a day off; foe wants to cash in
By Ed Miller, The Virginian-Pilot