Forfeit or Cancellation? Coaches Speak

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The Mississippi State/Nicholls State baseball saga has yet to be resolved. I just spoke with MSU coach John Cohen, whose Bulldogs were expecting to play a game at 1:30 p.m. yesterday against Nicholls State. The Colonels, of course, left town under the impression that the game had been canceled due to field conditions. So, does MSU get a win (and NSU a loss)? As soon as an SEC official calls me back, perhaps I can shed some light on that for you. Cohen said it’ll probably be decided by the NCAA.

Before I quote Cohen, let me relate an e-mail reply from Nicholls coach Chip Durham, who confirmed that the game, from his perspective, was a cancellation and not a forfeit. Wrote Durham:

“We met at 11 a.m., the same time their team was supposed to take the tarp off. There was still snow on areas in the outfield on top of the 5 inches of rain that we got Friday, which made it very saturated. They couldn’t take the tarp off at that time because of the ice and snow still on the tarp. The umpires that we had on Saturday’s doubleheader were from Birmingham and would not come because of iced bridges, so John was going to have to get some local umpires. I was not going to risk injuries for our team with conference starting next weekend just because John wanted to play. If they played an intrasquad game, that’s great for them. I hope they got better doing it and nobody got hurt, but they weren’t going to do it at the expense of risking injuries to our team. We did not forfeit, I canceled the game because their field was not in safe playing conditions due to recent bad weather.”

Here is how the NCAA rulebook defines a forfeit (Rule 2, Section 34): “A game declared ended and awarded to the offended team by the umpire-in-chief.” The rulebook reiterates, in Rule 3-7, “The umpire-in-chief has sole authority to forfeit a game…” According to Durham, the umps never showed, so that would seem to back his claim that it was a cancellation.

We ain’t done yet.

From Rule 4-2-a: “The coach and the director of athletics (or representative) institution shall decide whether a game shall not be started because of unsatisfactory conditions of weather or playing field, except for the second game of a doubleheader.” Obviously, Cohen thought the field would be OK.

But wait, check out Rule 5-14-a: “There shall be no forfeit of a contest until the umpire or other appropriate contest official has assumed jurisdiction of the contest in accordance with the applicable playing rules.” Emphasis is mine, and here’s why: Cohen said Jay Logan, MSU’s coordinator of events management and facilities, was there and apparently qualifies as an “appropriate contest official.” Since the umps weren’t there, the decision fell to Logan. Game on, said he.

Now, back to Cohen. He said he spoke with Durham on Sunday morning. He didn’t offer specifics of the conversation, but told me, “He basically said they were leaving at 11:00, which is 2 1/2 hours before game time.” And furthermore, “The opposing team does not have the authority to cancel a baseball game. I think that’s why we have an issue right now.”

The Bulldogs made do by holding a three-hour intrasquad scrimmage. Since they’re off until Thursday’s trip to Hawaii, Cohen was wanting to get some playing time for certain people.

“Win, lose or draw, I’m disappointed our kids didn’t get to play,” he said. “We don’t get to play until Thursday. I needed to run some people out there.”

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3 Responses to “Forfeit or Cancellation? Coaches Speak”

  1. bigdraws Says:

    Seems like to me it’s all up to the umpire as to what to decide. Seeing how the colonels left 2 1/2 hours before gametime, it looks like their coach made the decision before the umpire had time to make a ruling. The roads were fine after lunch time. I saw it’s a forfeit.

  2. bigdraws Says:

    “I say it’s a forfeit.”

  3. imabulldog Says:

    me too Draws. Too much drama for me

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