NAIA has always been notoriously the “don’t give damn” association of college ball. With all the others between NCAA I-III, JUCO, NCCAA, etc., for whatever reason NAIA has always had that stigma. This week they went all in on the “don’t give a damn” attitude, costing the Reinhardt University softball team a chance to compete for a title…or did they?
Twitter was wild.
Anytime there are a bunch of people talking softball in our mentions, I know something big went down. Parties from both sides of this story that you’ll hear here pleading their case, almost as if I’m some judge or jury who will rule in their favor if they plead hard enough. It’s wonderful actually. But let’s get to it…
Reinhardt took on Ottawa University in the Sioux City, Iowa bracket of the NAIA national tourney last weekend. From what I understand, the winner would move to the final 10? Don’t quote me on that part. It’s difficult to find an NAIA softball bracket online…
The game was tied 2-2 in the 3rd inning when the rain and alleged lightning hit. The game was called off, thus giving Ottawa the berth out of the bracket, to the final 10. Why Ottawa? They hadn’t lost in the bracket, whereas Reinhardt already took an L. Seems fine to me, but we’ve got some problems.
To sum up Reinhardt’s beef with the situation, all of the players, coaches, and fans claim that the field could have been ready to play with some work. According to the RU sources I spoke to (everyone will remain anonymous here, i think that’s how this journalism stuff works or something), the Reinhardt players were on their grind cupping water off the infield before they were told by whomever is in charge of the field here (also under question) to get off the field.
…an absolute grinder move here. Grounds crew sitting with their thumbs up their asses? No worries, we got Powerade cups. Well done, girls.
How bad was the condition of the field? This one also seems to be under question. It depends on whose photos you’re looking at, and trying to figure out what time they were taken. Have a look at some before, during, and after.
This is clearly the aftermath from the storm
But then there are some pictures from what seems to be post-storm, after some Powerade cup work and some sunshine.
It’s too tough to judge the condition of the field without doing a full walk around. Obviously in this case, the field condition would depend on who you’ve asked. What I will say, is that you can see very clearly the field draining water pretty well. What you don’t see is any diamond drying agent. How come? Well, because of the real problem here.
The NAIA is a dipshit organization.
I’m not going to argue whether or not the game should have been played on this field under the current conditions. I’m going to stick to what I know. The NAIA and whoever was overseeing this particular bracket was massively and reprehensibly under-prepared. Clearly there weren’t adequate resources on hand, whether it be man power or drying equipment, to handle the situation. But the absolute worst part of this whole story is the blatant disregard by the NAIA for their own regulations for a host field.
This is taken directly from the NAIA website on a page about host-field locations:
“The facility must have lights and a tarp along with meeting requirements including field dimensions, adequate spectator seating, electronic scoreboard, press box area, concession/souvenir areas, locker rooms, adequate rest rooms, athletic training facility, public address/sound system, signage and all normal preparation and facility maintenance, etc.”
This field had no lights, and clearly no tarp. The reason the decision had to be made so quickly was because the NAIA had to set the brackets ASAP. Looking at the pictures of this field, there’s NO WAY this game doesn’t get played if left to dry, worked on, and played hours later into the night. I don’t care if this game has to be finished at 3:00 in the morning. You have to play the game at all costs. Forget the fact that more should have been done by the hosts to get the field ready, it’s the NAIA’s fault for leaving it in the hands of those ill-prepared numb nuts.
I’ve personally spoken with unofficial representatives from both sides. The mood on twitter seems to be a lot of anger directed at Ottawa, insinuating that the team didn’t want to finish the game and risk losing. I don’t believe that to be accurate. There are a lot of moving parts in this situation, and it’s important to remember Ottawa wasn’t the host. Morningside College was the host (for some reason beyond me and everyone else). The decision wasn’t in the hands of Ottawa players or coaching staff. The problem here is poor planning, and blatant disregard for field regulations to host an NAIA regional bracket. The NAIA didn’t build in an extra day as a safety net for a rain delay. They needed the bracket set by midnight the night of the game. According to one of my sources, the weather concerns weren’t of any surprise to the administrators running the bracket. Why wasn’t there adequate equipment to fix the field? Why was a field chosen with no lights or full infield tarp? Well let’s consult the NAIA for those answers…
Haha alright I guess not. They did release this weak ass statement on twitter though…
Inclement weather forced a championship elimination game to be called early. Understandably, this disappointed players and fans.
— NAIA (@PlayNAIA) May 18, 2017
The NAIA strives to make the best decisions based on available information and will always prioritize the safety of our student-athletes.
— NAIA (@PlayNAIA) May 18, 2017
Congrats to Ottawa University for not losing a game, and moving on in the tournament. It’s sad to see Reinhardt have to end the season like this, especially for the seniors.
For the record: I don’t condone the “didn’t earn it” line. They didn’t lose a game. You did.