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NFHS' Bob Gardner Expresses Concerns with Big 10 Friday Night Football

By Sean Keeler/Land of 10 on May 23, 2017 nfhs news Print

From the Land of 10:

Bob Gardner, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, expressed growing concerns this past week about Big Ten football games moving to Friday nights after a meeting with Big Ten’s commissioner Jim Delaney and league administrators.

“In fact, we’re likely going to try to be a little bit more aggressive at fighting back and going to the media, going to the public, saying, ‘Hey, high schools play on Fridays and colleges play on Saturdays and the pros play on Sunday,’” Gardner said. “And we think it’s a pretty good arrangement and has been good [for] a number of years.

“We have to be careful. Because if they start eroding high-school support, that’s going to end up hurting us and hurting the fan base … dividing loyalties.”

The Big Ten will have six Friday games for the 2017-18 season. Gardner said that he’s considering bringing this issue up at the NFHS Summer Meeting this year in Providence, Rhode Island.

“I think one thing that we’ll likely do is, in our upcoming annual meeting this summer, we’ll probably do a resolution about protecting Friday nights for high school football, and see if each one of our state directors will sign it,” Gardner said. “And we’ll send that to all the conference commissioners and to the Division I schools and also make copies so that the media [can distribute it] and see where it [goes].

“I don’t think we really have formulated our plan necessarily yet. But I think it’s time to speak out and defend ourselves and defend what traditionally has been our night. There’s no way to keep people from playing if they really wanted to. But if public interest, public opinion is on our side, that might change [minds] a little bit.”

The SEC has no scheduled Friday games this fall. The ACC and Pac-12 each have eight Friday games on their current schedules and the Big 12 has two.

“I think the Big 12 has been looking at it and that it hasn’t been widespread yet,” Gardner said. “We just feel … we should be vocal before this thing gets farther out of hand.”