In response to the death of Nazareth coach Apache Paschall, Christ the King has postponed its game against Nazareth on Saturday. This comes on the heels of a Thursday night game postponed by Bishop Ford.
“They can't cancel Saturday's game,” said an irate Nazareth athletic director Rochelle Murphy. “They have been trying to get out of this game since December 9th and now they are using this as an excuse to do that.”
Nazareth and Christ the King were initially scheduled to play the game on December 3, but the game was rescheduled at Nazareth’s request because Paschall was attempting to put together a tournament on that date to raise money.
At the time, Christ the King agreed to reschedule and selected January 7 as the date of the game. However, less than a week later, a newspaper article came out insinuating that the reason the game was switched was to give Nazareth’s transfers students more time to gel before facing one of their biggest rivals.
“They have been trying to change the date of this game ever since,” Murphy said. “Now they are using this, piggy backing off of Ford, to change the game. We never agreed to change this game.”
Paschall, the legendary girls basketball coach, who was dealing with an aggressive form of skin cancer, passed away on Tuesday afternoon. At this point the cause of death is still unknown pending an autopsy.
The school’s initial reaction was to cancel its game against Bishop Ford on Thursday, but after hearing from the girls, who had met together as a group at New York Downtown Hospital, the school decided to go ahead with the game anyway.
"My first thought was that the game would be cancelled thinking that the girls would not be up to playing." said Nazareth's athletic director Rochelle Murphy. “I got a call from the hospital Tuesday night though and I was surprised, but the girls absolutely wanted to play the game."
However, the administration at Bishop Ford has determined that out of respect to Apache and his family, they have postponed the game.
“Out of common respect for a person who has passed away, we have decided to postpone this game,” Bishop Ford’s President Ray Nash said. “This was the simplest choice that I've had to make at Bishop Ford. A basketball game is not life, as educators we decided that this was the best thing that we do. Take a little time to grieve and then we'll play the game at a later date.”
Christ the King took a similar stance, but its president Michael Michel added, “The principal of our school school called their principal and she did not get back to us. We were under the impression that he was being buried on Saturday and the decision was made to postpone the game.”
Narareth’s AD said that her school plans to ask the league for forfeits for both games if they are not played. They had planned on taking a bus to Bishop Ford to symbolically prove a point about how badly they wanted to play that game.
However, after the referees for the game cancelled, Nazareth decided against such a move.
“The rules are in black and white, both teams have to agree to change the date of a game,” Murphy said. “There is no siding with or against us, there is no emotion needed to choose which way you are going to go, it's in black and white.”
If the games are determined to be forfeits, the penalty would not only be that the teams would lose just one game, they would be forfeiting all of the rest of this season and next as well, according to Murphy.
Bishop Ford’s AD, Peter Goyco, said that his school has not considered the consequences of a possible forfeiture and only said that they will, “cross that bridge when we get to it.” Christ the King’s president said that they would appeal if they were forced to forfeit the game.
When contacted regarding the entire situation, league president Denise Hillig refused to comment and simply noted that both games are not being played at this time.