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Controversy surrounds D1 North semifinal

6/7/2014

After initially protesting the rescheduling of their Division 1 North baseball semifinal game and reportedly considering a forfeit, Methuen and Chelmsford are set to play Saturday morning even though the game conflicts with SAT testing.

The SAT is administered only a few times each year, and the final opportunity to take the test this school year is Saturday morning, when Methuen and Chelmsford are scheduled to face off at LeLacheur Park in Lowell at 10 a.m., after getting rained out Thursday. The MIAA made it clear on Friday that they would not reschedule because of the conflict with the SAT.

"One of the major issues was that we wanted to play the game as soon as possible really, the longer it takes for this round to go on, it's that much longer for the next round," MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel told ESPNBoston.com on Friday. "When it rains pretty soon, you've got teams with players who are no longer going to school. It's unfortunate, but it's very difficult."

With the combination of rainouts, graduations, and proms, spring tournament scheduling has been a tricky maneuver for the MIAA. Methuen holds their graduation Friday evening, while Chelmsford's graduation ceremony is Saturday night at 6 p.m. The Division 1 North final is scheduled for Sunday, which gave the MIAA little room for error considering the fact that Andover, who faces the winner of Chelmsford and Methuen, is holding their graduation ceremony on Monday.

"With regard to SATs, prior to the season we ask all schools to emphasize to their students that there may be scheduling conflicts with their games on their SAT dates," Wetzel said. "When we get a rainout like we had, it comes up as a surprise, if you will. Especially in the spring, things get very chaotic when it rains and all the sports tournament are outside. When we are trying to reschedule dozens of games, it gets pretty chaotic. Over the course of every spring season, we have had conflicts with SATs, with the prom. There just aren't enough days.

"Some of the other criteria still play a role: the location, the availability. Every field isn't available, that's a common belief that people are mistaken about. There's a lot of high schools who won't host an event unless their students are playing in it."

The semifinal game, which was rained out on Thursday night, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at LeLacheur Park in Lowell. The D2 North title game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at the same field.

It seems likely that both Methuen and Chelmsford will be at less than full strength if the players from each team decide to follow through and take the SAT instead of playing in the D1 North semi.

If the teams were to decide to forfeit the game, Wetzel indicated that the members of the MIAA baseball committee and tournament management committee would then have discussions early Sunday about how to decide whether or not the game would still potentially be played and how to address whom Andover would play, if anyone, for the Division 1 North championship.

"It would be pretty quick, it would be on Sunday," Wetzel said. "They want to determine what's going to happen. ... I can't remember a time when both teams said they would not play a scheduled game. For the tournament committee, doing it in a timely fashion is very important. They have the scheduling authority and authority on whether another team is going to move up. ... The athletic directors and the principals will probably be the people who really decide."

There is no rule in the MIAA handbook, according to Wetzel, that addresses scheduling conflicts with standardized test taking. The College Board, which runs and administers the SAT, has a strict deadline for students who wish to take the test at an alternative time and location within one week following the scheduled test date because of unforeseen circumstances.

A representative from The College Board told ESPNBoston.com that because academic administration at Methuen and Chelmsford did not have the ability to communicate with The College Board in the required 10 days before the June 7 test date, the participating players would have to wait until October to take the test -- an obvious concern for players who must prioritize the timeline of their college decision.

Wetzel added: "One day of the football season is almost always on the SAT Saturday. What we do is we run the tournament and we set up a schedule from the tournament, we like to avoid conflict with as many places as we can. Typically we probably wouldn't have had a morning schedule anywhere in June."