Last Friday’s cancelled football game between Muskegon Heights and Muskegon Catholic will be considered a “no-play,” and neither team will have to forfeit, according to a statement released Thursday by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
That means both teams will play eight game schedules, rather than the customary nine, and can qualify for the postseason state playoffs with five wins, rather than the customary six.
Muskegon Heights is 1-0 on the season while Muskegon Catholic is 0-1.
Muskegon Heights officials mentioned the possibility of seeking a forfeit victory after Muskegon Catholic failed to show up for last Friday’s game at Heights’ Phillips Field.
MCC officials explained that they had been contacted by someone from the City of Muskegon Police Department earlier in the day, warning them of that there has been an explicit, but non-specific, threat of violence at the football game.
A man had been found shot to death in the street earlier in the day within a mile of the high school and football field, and there had been a multiple shooting the prior weekend in Muskegon Heights.
Neither of those incidents had anything to do with either school or either of the football teams.
MCC officials said the Muskegon police officer advised them not to play the game.
Discussions between the two schools about a possible makeup date were fruitless. Both teams have full schedules for the rest of the season.
After reviewing the situation, the MHSAA decided not to punish either team for the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the game.
The following are key excerpts of a statement released by Jack Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA:
“…(Because) we have complete confidence in MCC’s motivation for not playing on the night of Sept. 4 and also note its efforts to reschedule the game last weekend, which were unsatisfactory to Muskegon Heights, we have determined the Week 2 game is a ‘no-play.’ This penalizes neither team, which we believe is most appropriate; and it allows either team to qualify for the MHSAA Football Playoffs by winning five of its (now) eight regular-season games this season.”
Roberts’ statement also noted that while Muskegon police contacted MCC about the perceived safety threat at the game, they did not bother to contact the Muskegon Heights Police Department or Muskegon Heights school officials.
That decision led to a lack of communication and understanding between the two schools, according to Roberts.
“From the reports the MHSAA requested and received from the two schools, it is clear that public safety authorities in Muskegon did well in communications to MCC authorities, but communication with public safety authorities in Muskegon Heights was lacking; and this seems to have contributed to the different perspectives of those most directly involved regarding the event in question.”