BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo Public Schools won't be seeing major changes to next season's football schedules anymore. Section VI announced Monday afternoon that its delaying the decision to return to league scheduling following an appeal by the Buffalo Public Schools.
"Section VI Executive Committee voted this morning to suspend any implementation of league-based play in order to allow for further communication, input and guidance with regard to this matter, while alleviating any disruption and uncertainty with regard to the upcoming football season. As a result, Section VI high school football will continue under its federation-based alignment for the 2020-21 football season," a release stated.
A full statement from Section VI President Adam Stoltman can be read below.
The decision to return high school football to league-based play was carefully considered and followed a transparent process through which all Section VI members were provided opportunities for input. Returning high school football to league-based play would reduce travel time and costs for the 63 football teams in Section VI, and would also enhance league rivalries, increase the significance of games for playoff eligibility, foster increased attendance and facilitate long-term scheduling. Nonetheless, the Section values the perspectives and concerns that have been presented by the Buffalo Public Schools as a continuing Section VI member. The Executive Committee believes that this morning’s action to delay any implementation of the return to league-based play will provide an opportunity to engage in on-going meaningful dialogue with the BPS, as well as the Section’s other members, and to ultimately ensure that a return to league-based play addresses the concerns of the BPS while enhancing the opportunities and experiences of the student-athletes who participate in high school football within the Section.
Politicians, school board members, coaches, and players have been outspoken against Section VI's decision that would have the five Buffalo Public Schools with football teams playing in their own league.
Buffalo School Board Member-At-Large Terrance Heard said, "It was going to have to come to a decision like this because as in Western New York it's 2020. We don't need the fight for civil rights, right here, right now. We just need civil liberties." He continues, "I believe this shows the power of the people and the power of what we can do."
The reversal comes following an outcry against Section VI's decision. Mayor Byron Brown was joined by other local politicians, coaches, and football players on Monday morning expressing dismay with Section VI's decision. He released the below statement after Section VI reversed its decision:
“I am pleased that the Executive Committee of Section VI, NYSPHSAA, Inc., listened with open hearts and minds to the concerns of our community and recognize the importance of inclusive and equitable interscholastic athletics. In reversing its decision to exclude students from the City of Buffalo from competing against their neighbors and friends, Section VI confirms what we all know too well: diversity is our strength. And on the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us rejoice in the news that, together, this City and this Region came together to do what is right.”
Prior to Section VI's reversal, Bennett High School and South Park High School coaches league play, as opposed to playing by class sizes, would have diminished the level of competition they saw, and that it would've meant lost opportunities for players.
"This will definitely take away scholarship opportunities from our children," said Stevenson McDuffie, the head coach at Bennett.