Dr. Karissa Niehoff has a stern message for college football: Stay out of Friday Nights. It’s for high school football.
Niehoff, the executive director of the National Federation of High School Athletic Associations and the former head of the CIAC, released a statement Wednesday demanding that college football programs refrain from scheduling games on Friday nights so that football fans won’t be divided between their local high schools and their regional universities.
Niehoff’s statement, released on the organization’s website, NFHS.org, came as three NCAA FBS teams were playing Friday night, including Ohio State at Northwestern and Pittsburgh at Syracuse. Throughout the year, 25 NCAA FBS games have been played Friday nights.
“Ohio State, one of the nation’s top-ranked college teams with one of the strongest fan bases, played on Friday night in direct competition with the several hundred high school games across the state,” Dr. Niehoff wrote.
She noted that “a number of high schools in Ohio” attempted to find ways to move their games around to accommodate Ohio State’s playing on Friday night. One Ohio school, Ursuline High School in Youngstown, urged its fans to boycott watching Ohio State in order to send a message to stay out of Friday.
Niehoff, now in her second year as NFHS’ executive director since coming over from CIAC, concurred.
“High schools should not have to adjust their schedules to accommodate colleges playing on Friday nights,” she wrote. “High school coaches, administrators and fans are opposed to colleges playing on Friday nights. The NFHS and its member state associations are opposed. Even leaders in the Ohio State administration did not initially support the idea of the Buckeyes playing on Friday night. Friday nights are for high school football and should remain that way.”
Niehoff referred to a resolution made by NFHS two years ago urging the same thing and asked that when the current TV deals expire, that Friday nights are taken off the table.
“Friday nights offer communities a traditional time and place to congregate and support their students,” she wrote. “As was the case last week in Ohio, a college game on Friday night impacts interest and attendance at high school games.
“Let’s maintain Friday nights in the fall for high school football. It is a win-win for everyone.”