St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

FSU-Miami game move angers high school head

FHSAA commissioner Robert W. Hughes criticizes the decision to play the college game on Friday, the traditional prep game night.

Published September 4, 2004

The Florida High School Athletic Association is upset with the decision to move the Florida State-Miami game from Labor Day to Friday night, the traditional stage for prep football.

Commissioner Robert W. Hughes, disappointed his organization wasn't consulted or even notified of the rescheduling, blasted the ACC and the schools for showing a "complete lack of sensitivity" to high school sports.

"Most of our schools depend on the revenue from home football games to fund their entire athletic programs throughout the year," Hughes said in a terse statement, adding some schools already were "reeling financially" due to lost home games after Hurricane Charley and with Hurricane Frances impending this weekend.

"Now, we find out that next week our schools will have to compete for an audience with the prime-time telecast of arguably the biggest college football game that will be played this year in this state. How much more of a loss can these schools take?"

He called upon FSU and Miami to re-evaluate playing Friday and not "negatively impact the very high schools they depend upon to produce the athletes they recruit to field national championship-caliber teams."

That's not going to happen.

Once officials from FSU, Miami, the ACC and ABC decided Thursday that safety concerns merited a postponement, they had few options if they wanted to maintain the national prime-time audience, and accompanying revenue, that Labor Day evening promised.

The ACC insisted it wouldn't tread into prep territory and discussed the implications of relaxing that policy at length with Charlie Adams, the executive director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, who is a liaison with prep organizations in the league's geographic footprint.

"Unfortunately, we regret the communication did not reach the Florida High School Athletic Association," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "Our conference has been very supportive of high school athletics and that will certainly continue. I would reiterate that this is an exception to our conference policy on scheduling regular-season conference football games on Friday nights."

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.