December 5, 2003

Charity Event Canceled

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After months of planning, a charity event sponsored by the Class of 2005 was canceled on Tuesday. The event, which would have raised thousands of dollars for the Ithaca Youth Hockey Association and the Tompkins Girls Hockey Association, was scheduled for this weekend’s hockey games.

“It didn’t shock me, I guess,” said Mary Granger ’79, vice president of the TGHA. “We can handle this.”

The fundraiser, scheduled to take place during the intermissions of the Brown and Harvard hockey games, was canceled in part due to the lack of advance notice given to men’s hockey head coach Mike Schafer ’86.

“I never heard about it until Tuesday that they were planning such a thing and anything that surrounds the game, I think it would be quite obvious that the coach and the team [should be notified],” he said.

“I can see Coach Schafer’s point of view,” Granger said.

The Class of 2005 organizers are disappointed that the event was canceled at the last minute.

“This is far too late in the game and is unacceptable to the members of the Class Council who worked so hard for a good cause,” said class president Jason Jendrewski ’05.

Besides the Class of 2005, several other organizations have planned to run programs at tomorrow’s game. These charities include the Cops, Kids and Toys program and the Family Reading Partnership. Both are asking fans to bring toys and books to tomorrow’s hockey game.

“It’s already a very busy, stimulating event from a fundraising point of view,” Granger said.

Schafer’s concerns stemmed from the potential for bench minor penalties to be invoked against the Red if the on-ice festivities caused any delay in the resumption of play following an intermission.

“We’ve been warned that if there’s any delay of the game because of any events, promotions, fish on the ice, things like that, they’re going to penalize us,” said Gene Nighman ’81, director of athletic tickets and events.

“I know that there is concern for good reason on the part of the athletic department about a delay and penalty,” said Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services.

Rules regarding game management recently adopted by the ECAC state that if a 15-minute intermission is prolonged as a result of an on-ice promotional event, the home team will be penalized by a two-minute bench minor.

“This weekend of all weekends of the year, if something goes wrong, with a charged crowd and stuff going on the ice, any discipline or whatever issues we have to address, we have a very narrow window,” said Associate Athletic Director Anita Brenner ’87, administrator for the men’s hockey team.

“We have a very narrow window during intermission to take care of business,” Brenner added. “The Zamboni takes eight minutes, the drying of the wet Zamboni trail takes three minutes and the officials take the ice two minutes before the end of intermission. So that leaves us a two-minute cushion.”

The event is likely to be rescheduled for next semester.

“We’ll do it,” Schafer said. “If they would have just given me the heads-up a long time ago, it could have been done this weekend.”

Frank Araneo, associate athletic director for business and finance, and other athletic officials, agreed. They have held frequent meetings since at least Oct. 21 with class officials to plan the charity event.

“Whatever the Class Council needs, be it money or manpower, to do the event in January, the department will provide,” Araneo said. “Whatever we have to do to make this right we will do.”

Granger said that there may be benefits to holding the event in 2004.

“We can get a bigger crowd out in January,” she said, adding that the Tompkins Girls Hockey Association can use the extra time to sell more raffle tickets and raise even more money.

Granger said she did not hear about the event until this Monday or Tuesday, although her organization was prepared to rush from a youth hockey game to participate in the event. Yesterday, Brenner and Jendrewski notified her that the event would not take place.

“When I was contacted [by Jendrewski], he was very professional,” Granger said. “I believe that [the class] was well-organized and thought it all through.”

Class of 2005 planners hoped that this would be their hallmark event of the year, an event that would “promote class spirit and unity in the service of a good cause,” according to Jendrewski.

The class spent half of its budget, $1,500, on giveaways and other related event costs. Athletics has now agreed to reimburse the class for the giveaways — “Lynah Faithful” foam hockey sticks and pucks labeled “Cornell Hockey 2003-04.”

According to the event’s plan, a $4 raffle ticket would have purchased a chance for a fan to get on the ice during Friday night intermissions and participate in a hockey trivia contest moderated by former All-America hockey player Pete Tufford ’67, a member of the 1967 national championship team. Ticket sales would benefit the charity. The winner of the trivia contest would then have had the chance to make a $10,000 shot on Saturday night. The shot’s prize would have gone to anyone who successfully scored the goal.

Class officials say that canceling the event lets down corporate sponsors, University administrators, the athletics department itself and the charities involved. They believe that they had an understanding with Araneo that athletic officials would be responsible for coordinating with Schafer.

“I think that this is essentially a question of the athletic department’s commitment: its commitment to honoring obligations, its commitment to the students of Cornell and its commitment to serving the Ithaca community. I think it is deplorable how Athletics is treating Class Council and disappointing the kids,” said Jerilyn Gusmanos ’05, Council member at large.

Jendrewski added, “It’s almost unfair to [Athletics] as well, that they were put in this situation.”

Athletic department officials felt, however, that the class should have notified Schafer and Lynah Rink manager Phil Graham far in advance.

“I was just under the impression that at some point they were going to talk to [Graham] and get everything coordinated with the management of the rink and the game. It never got done; I don’t know if there was a miscommunication that someone else was doing it for [Jendrewski]. I even volunteered to take them up and introduce them to Phil,” Nighman said.

Schafer added, “If people got a hold of me, they would have known that we hardly ever do promotional events on the [Harvard] game. Many charities ask, but there’s just not a lot of time. … They didn’t give themselves a whole lot of time to promote the event, to get it organized, to have a lot of people participate in it.

“It’s something that we could have organized with the Harvard coach and let them know ahead of time. You never want to walk into an opposing rink and they spring something on you as you walk in the door that there’s going to be an event.

“There’s a reason why we’ve never ever done a promotional event at the Harvard game.”

Brenner defended Schafer’s commitment to community involvement.

“If Mike was brought in on these discussions, we could have handled this communication differently too,” she said. “This wasn’t Mike turning down the promotion, this was a larger department issue of trying to manage this event more responsibly.

“Mike’s been committed to youth hockey. His kids are involved in it, and I know he donates his time in a numbe
r of ways to support the organization. I don’t think there’s any question we want to help them out.”

Araneo concluded: “The only thing that happens in situations like this is hurt feelings and bad blood.”

Archived article by Peter Norlander