Youngstown State needs an opponent for the first game of the upcoming season.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State is looking for a opening football game for next season.
Kent State, which was scheduled to play host to the Penguins Aug. 28, has pulled out of the game.
YSU athletic director Ron Strollo received a letter from Kent State's Laing Kennedy, stating the Golden Flashes would be unable to honor the contract.
"They didn't even have the courtesy to call and talk to Ron by phone, they just sent a letter," said YSU associate athletic director Rick Love.
Love said the Mid-American Athletic Conference is restructuring its schedules and wanted Kent State to play rival Akron in the season opener.
"Apparently the MAC is moving some of its big rivalries up earlier in the season, and they probably figure that they will get more fans in August for a Kent-Akron game when both teams are 0-0 and the weather is warm, than they will in November when both teams have losing records and the weather is cold," said Love.
Love said the NCAA attendance requirement that will go into effect in 2004, when Division I-A schools will be required to average 15,000 per home game, was probably also a factor.
Akron originally was scheduled to play at the University of Hawaii in their opener, but the Zips also had to pull out of the game, leaving Hawaii very upset over the matter.
According to Love, Kent offered to play YSU in either 2006 or 2008, but not next year, even though both teams are open Sept. 13.
Strollo called Duquesne University, a Div. I-AA non-scholarship program, which had inquired about a 2003 game. Nothing could be worked out at that time.
There is also the possibility of adding a Div. II opponent like Clarion or Lock Haven. The Penguins, though, will play Slippery Rock Sept. 6 at Stambaugh Stadium.
Reportedly, McNeese State has several openings on its 2003 schedule, including the Aug. 30 date. The Penguins played host to the Cowboys last season, and are scheduled to play in Lake Charles, La., in 2004.
The predicament does hold the possibility that a seventh home game could be scheduled for next season.
YSU will also receive a monetary settlement from Kent State for breaking the contract.