‘Highly disturbing’: BPS superintendent weighs in on Bennett-McQuaid football game postponement situation

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash is speaking out on the postponed Bennett-McQuaid state quarterfinal football game.

Cash said in a statement Sunday evening that the game should have been forfeited instead of postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak on the McQuaid Jesuit High School football team. He added that health and safety should be a top priority and said the issue is “fast unfolding as a racial injustice and inequity issue.”

Cash said he will not tolerate the victimizing and discounting of BPS student-athletes.

“We have seen a highly disturbing precedent occur with the Bennett/McQuaid football contest case. To date, it does not embody a spirit of equity, fairness, and good sportsmanship. The game clearly should have been forfeited due to the significant Covid-19 outbreak on the McQuaid team. Health and safety must always be the first priority for everyone.

Neither BPS nor NYSPHSAA have been privy to the injunction documents allegedly filed with the Court. If this case is not heard tomorrow or Tuesday morning and properly resolved, we will call an urgent press conference and invite all relevant local and state authorities to stand with us.

This is fast unfolding as a racial injustice and inequity issue. I will not tolerate, under any circumstance, victimizing and discounting our student athletes when they have followed all the rules pursuant to this matter. As a District, we are fully prepared to take immediate appellate action to ensure a safe, fair, and just outcome.”

Dr. Kriner Cash, BPS Superintendent

Two members of McQuaid’s team tested positive on Tuesday and the team was placed on a “72-hour pause for contact practice” that day. Additional testing revealed “several more positive cases,” according to McQuaid.

McQuaid said Saturday they were granted a temporary restraining order against the Erie County Department of Health which would have allowed them to circumvent ECDOH protocols and travel to Williamsville South High School to play the game.

The move came after Erie County Health officials told McQuaid on Friday only their vaccinated players, coaches and managers could compete in the game after some players from the Rochester high school tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from McQuaid Jesuit.

“All of us hope that we can allow our players to safely compete in a game they have worked so hard for,” said Fr. Phil Judge, S.J., president, McQuaid Jesuit.  “We look forward to that opportunity in the near future.”

The game was postponed Saturday afternoon by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association citing McQuaid’s positive COVID-19 cases. NYSPHSAA’s decision to postpone was made in consultation with the Erie County Department of Health and Monroe County Health Department, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Section VI, a division of NYSPHSAA, of which Bennett High School is a member, called for a forfeit of the game and believes the game should have been played as originally scheduled.

President of Section VI Brett Banker said Saturday that NYSPHSAA had previously instituted a rule that did not allow for any post-season schedule changes — except in the event of extreme weather.

“Although we are sensitive to the virus impacting students and a coaching staff anywhere, it is our position that McQuaid should have traveled to Erie County with the ample number of players that they had available that met ECDOH regulations,” Banker said. “Since that did not occur, we will be asking the Executive Director of NYSPHSAA to declare a forfeit and move a very-deserving, Bennett High School team forward in the state championships. We intend to cite NYSPHSAA’s own language regarding an inability to alter the post-season schedule.”

Dr. Kriner Cash said the Buffalo Public Schools plans to hold a press conference and take legal action in the coming days if the ordeal isn’t “properly resolved.”

On Monday afternoon, the school district shared a tweet, saying they’re “waiting to hear of a resolution today.”

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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