Add high school football coaches to the list of people and organizations that oppose the Big Ten’s move to schedule games on Friday nights.
Brett Cazalet, president of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association, released a statement on Friday saying that the Big Ten’s decision to schedule six Friday night games each season starting in 2017 will be “detrimental to our student-athletes, schools and communities,”according to the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein.
Cazalat’s statement was also reportedly signed by associations from Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin, states that all have a Big Ten university in it.
Here’s more from Cazalat:
“In a time where football is in need of everyone working together to promote our great game, the Big Ten Conference has decided to create division and competition with high school football,” the statement reads. “The impact of these universities playing on what has long been traditionally a night for high school football is detrimental to our student-athletes, schools and communities.
“‘Friday Night Lights’ … has long been used to describe the community atmosphere provided at a high school football game. It represents the community gathering … to cheer their football team, support their band and cheerleaders, meet up with friends and promote school and community pride. Most high school teams only get up to five home games a season. They rely on these home games to generate revenue streams through admission, concessions, fundraising and other efforts. That revenue is vitally important to each program. It will also take away from the fan base, which greatly contributes to these special fall evenings.”
The Big Ten’s decision to expand its scheduling to Friday nights has prompted criticism from all corners of the conference. Michigan is refusing to participate in the move, and Ohio State and Penn State have said they will only be open to Friday road games.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh voiced his displeasure in the decision, stating on Twitter, “We should promote rather than create obstacles.”
Disappointed to learn Big 10 has chosen to infringe on Friday night High school Football. We should promote rather than create obstacles
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) November 4, 2016
In addition, multiple assistant coaches told ESPN that they thought Friday games would negatively impact recruiting. High school coaches feel the same way.
“Many of us coach players who on Saturdays visit college campuses for recruiting visits or to simply take in a Big Ten game,” Cazalat said. “This new scheduling eliminates many of those opportunities for our athletes and their families. Our associations are united in our commitment to do what is best for our members and the players that we coach. We are very concerned that these changes by the Big Ten were implemented and not discussed with our associations because we are the ones who will be impacted by the decision.
“We recognize that athletics are continuously changing at all levels. We are willing to work with the Big Ten to find reasonable and fair solutions to this new issue that they have chosen to create. We feel strongly that high school football on Friday night is a tradition that is not in need of altering. By not consulting with our associations and working towards a solution together, the Big Ten has created tension in a relationship that has long been strong and mutually beneficial.”