SBD/May 16, 2017/Colleges

Big Ten ADs Meet With High School Administrators To Discuss Friday Night Games

Administrators from a number of high school associations in the Midwest met for two hours yesterday with all Big Ten ADs at their annual meetings at conference HQ in Rosemont, Ill., to discuss the conference playing "six games on Friday nights" in '17, according to Chris Solari of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Northwestern AD Jim Phillips said it was "vital for the college representatives to hear the high school perspective on the impending Friday night move." The Big Ten’s new media agreement with ABC/ESPN and Fox "stipulates the conference will play six Friday games per year over the next six seasons." Ohio State AD Gene Smith supports the idea of Friday night games and said, "We have to be creative for our league. Any time you have change of that nature, of that magnitude, there’s going to be some challenges. You just gotta fight through them" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/16). Phillips said, "Friday night football is beautiful. No one wants to disrupt that. We just had a wonderful session with them for two hours and had a chance to hear their perspective on it. I don’t think anybody jumped at the opportunity to create Friday night football at the college level but there was a window and it was part of our television negotiation." He added, "Part of this has to be the local politics if you will. What does it feel like in Evanston versus what does it feel like in Lincoln, or Iowa City or Columbus, Ohio? The more we can allow those schools to locally have influence in what we do on Friday nights I think the better off we’ll be" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/16).

TRYING TO MAKE IT WORK: Phillips said that programs can "work with local high schools to make positives." In Michigan, Kyle Austin notes Purdue is "offering high school teams the opportunity to play in Ross-Ade Stadium on a Saturday when its football team is playing on a Friday night" (MLIVE.com, 5/16). Illinois AD Josh Whitman said, "Friday night games are a great opportunity for programs like Illinois’ to gain some national spotlight. We have obviously played at whatever time on Saturday after noon competing against dozen of other games. The chance to be on a national program is great for our program. ... For us, we’re embracing the opportunity and hope it will help to advance our program" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/16).

EMBROILED IN CONTROVERSY: In Detroit, Matt Charboneau writes Michigan State AD Mark Hollis yesterday "offered his first extensive remark" since his school became "embroiled in several controversies," including the ongoing gymnastics legal case against Dr. Larry Nassar and two sexual assault cases involving members of the football team. Hollis: "I’m an AD that cares passionately about Michigan State and East Lansing and our state. The situation’s been challenging for everybody. At the same time there’s much good that’s going on, on campus right now that I guess somewhat for good reason has been overshadowed by some very serious issues." He added, "Everyone wants to get to a good place and they’re doing what needs to be done to get there. Confidence is high that we will get there. The goal is to make this community proud of what has been done, like has been the case over the past 10 years" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/16).
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