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NIAA opts to play state football semifinal at Bishop Manogue
by Dan Eckles
Nov 25, 2013 | 1863 views | 8 8 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Patchy grass and an uneven playing surface is the norm on the Reed football field (shown here last summer). On Monday, the NIAA ruled the field was unsafe/unsuitable to host a state semifinal playoff game this coming weekend.
Tribune file photo - Patchy grass and an uneven playing surface is the norm on the Reed football field (shown here last summer). On Monday, the NIAA ruled the field was unsafe/unsuitable to host a state semifinal playoff game this coming weekend.
After winning its fourth regional championship in five years last Friday night, the Reed football team had been looking forward in recent days to hosting a state semifinal Saturday afternoon.

That won't happen.

Reed athletic officials learned late Monday morning that the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the state's governing body for high school sports, had decided to change the host site for Saturday's DI state semifinal between Reed and Liberty High of Henderson. The game had originally been scheduled to be hosted by the North champion, but that changed when the NIAA announced mid-day Monday that Bishop Manogue will host the playoff game.

The NIAA released a memo to the media and involved schools following its decision. It read: "Mr. Eddie Bonine, Executive Director of the NIAA, along with four Washoe County School District personnel, toured/did a site visit of the Reed High School football field this morning and determined the field’s condition is not safe and/or suitable for a post-season game (Division I state semifinal) of this magnitude."

Reed's football field and track facility has come under scrutiny in the past year for its substandard conditions, specifically an uneven surface and poor grass growth. However, Reed played football games as well as boys and girls soccer matches on its field throughout the fall sports season. Additionally, the NIAA hosted first and second-round regional playoff games at Reed Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 without calling for a venue change.

Brian Rothe, the Washoe County School District's coordinator of athletics, did not criticize the NIAA's decision but said he, as well as other district staff, have inspected the facility in the past.

"I think Reed, and (athletic director) Ron (Coombs) in particular, have done yeoman's work. They've done a great job to make the field playable. Now, has it always been aesthetically pleasing, maybe not, but that doesn't mean it's unsafe or unplayable."

The NIAA's web site as late as Sunday night listed the North Region champion school as the host site for Saturday's state semifinal before it was changed Monday morning.

Coombs did not hide his frustration Monday. Not only did he disagree with the NIAA's decision to move the game away from Reed, but he was seething over the process that brought on the change. The veteran RHS athletic director said he didn't even receive a phone call from the NIAA informing him of the change.

"I found out after getting an automatically generated email from arbiter, the web site that handles the officiating schedule," Coombs said.

Just after 1 p.m. Monday, Coombs learned of the NIAA's visit to Reed earlier that morning. He added that no Reed officials were invited to the site visit.

"Nothing seems right about the way this was handled," Coombs said. "To be honest, I'm still stunned … I'm angry the game was moved, but I'm more angry about the way it was handled.

"I can live with a decision to have a meeting if we're invited and are there to defend our right to host. I think our kids earned that. I wouldn't be happy about the decision to move the game, but I'd feel a lot better about it if I was consulted. At that point, we'd say we gave it our best shot. To have it handled the way it was handled is as unprofessional as you get."

Reed hosted state semifinals in 2009 and 2012 while McQueen hosted a state semifinal in 2010. In the 2011, the North champion advanced directly into the state final and did not play in a state semifinal. Thus, Monday's NIAA decision left officials at Reed frustrated to say the least.

"It's extremely frustrating. Our goal is to get the home-field playoff advantage," Reed coach Ernie Howren said. "When the season started, the North Region champion was set to host the Sunrise Region champion. So that was a goal we set. We earned it and unfortunately, now it's been taken away from us.

"The field was fine to host two home playoff games already this season. Why is it not playable for one more game? That does not make any sense to me."

Officials at the NIAA were unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.

Paperwork shows the NIAA began looking into moving the game as early as last Thursday. That's the day Bonine sent a letter to WCSD officials, including Rothe and Gonzolo Hernandez, the district's Risk Management Manager. The letter asked for an audit of the Reed facility, calling for district leaders to sign off on the field, saying it met safety standards/expectations.

Rothe said he got internal direction from the district not to sign off on the request. Any such document would have left the district with a huge legal burden. When Coombs and Reed principal Mary Vesco were patched into a conference call with NIAA officials Monday, Coombs said he asked if Manogue was asked to sign a similar waiver, guaranteeing the safety of its facility.

"To me, if that's the standard we're asked to adhere to, than that should be the standard used for any site," Coombs said. "I was basically told in not so many words to move on to another subject."

The decision left Coombs, Howren and others wondering about the future of Reed's football field. Should games be played there next year after a state agency ruled the field 'unsafe?'

"It's a huge concern," Howren said. "What's next? It's all speculation at this point, but we have to wonder what we will be told next year if we get to this point or even before this point. The district is going to have to seriously look at what happens to our field now that it's been deemed unsafe."
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November 26, 2013
my question is how many injuries have happen at Reed compared to other schools? Is there evidence that the field is more dangerous. I know at least one team had a freshman get his collar bone broken on this field. If it is a dangerous field then who is responsible for the injuries that occurred there this year? It didn't magically become unfit. The problem I see with the field as a spectator is the gate and the bleachers. The field is bad but someone could and should have figured that out before the season started. I don't like to go to games there because it is so difficult to leave the stadium.
Family Man
November 26, 2013
So it's safe and suitable for northern teams to play on the Reed field all season long, including the post-season, but NOT when a Vegas team comes to town? I don't think anyone disagrees that Reed's field desperately needs and deserves serious upgrades, but I find the timing of the NAIA's concern telling, as was the process they employed to make the decision to play at BM. Bonine will continue to rule his fiefdom as he sees fit (or as he sees profit) until someone up the food chain has the integrity (or cojones) to do the right thing. The bias for the south gets more blatant each year. Here's hoping Brian Sandoval, a native of the north, will finally clean up the NAIA.
raider parent
November 26, 2013
Don't you think it is about time the admin. staff at RHS do something about the field conditions? Where does the money go from the two cell towers on site? How about the money saved on power bills do to a parking lot full of solar panels? It all starts in the principal office. You tell our student athletes to have pride. How about leading by example!
Camera person
November 26, 2013
This is absurdly unfair to ALL on the Raiders team/staff but why is this such a surprise? The bigger picture is more than just the condition of the field. The goal posts are not upright, the track is disintegrating, the press box is completely outdated, the taping platform is way too small for the needs of today's high school football programs. The condition of the Reed facility is undeniably the worst in Northern any level.

One more question: the NIAA has contracted with a local sports production company to record/broadcast the State Playoff football games. Reed High School does not have the facilities to comfortably allow for such a production. Could that be part of the decision-making process in moving this game?
Reed Raider Parent
November 26, 2013
I guess the only thing that we as Raiders can do now is go out on Saturday and kick Liberty's a**. That will show the NIAA that no matter how they try to keep the North out of another championship game they will not succeed. How about the NIAA doing something about Gorman?
November 26, 2013
Mr. Reporter...Cry me a river with your article.

Hasn't it been obvious for so long that NIAA is a bloated organization of five? Living high on the hog?

Former RGJ Prep Report Chris Gabel attempted to raise some awareness with his special report (though too brief) but got no traction.. Ie.. NO stones to follow up what could be a juicy revealing of status quo and dare I suggest.. hint of incompetence?

Here you go.. one conversation I had with Mr Eddie Bonine many years ago... and his answer to my question was that he has a long list of lawyers on speed dial.

Say what? Are you serious?

What exactly does Bonine bring to the table when lawyers are constantly doing his mouth piece.

And you wonder why the tickets went from $7 to $10 for NIAA post season games and the number of games being protracted to more locations, more dates than say 10 years ago.

With more games at more locations, more money should be sitting in the bank. You think?

Much like the former WCSD Superindependent, DR. Heath "Let's Have a Conversation" Morrison's constant pandering when the reality is "no real money ever trickle down beyond the line item.. Salaries related."

I am glad big and real money from the "SOUTH" actually will fight for the safety of their athletes and program and force the issue to move the venue elsewhere.

The move to play at BM is the right choice but handled by NIAA like they typically do... a decision process an employee a few pay grades lower typically do better in Corporate America.

Come on.. this is pretty much still a home game for Reed HS.

Concentrate on the game and deal with it.. Be adults about it.

Don't be a drama queen much like this reporter trumped the cancellation of the football game between SSHS and BM into a week long diatribe.

How sad.

November 25, 2013
Instead of a joyous time, a time to celebrate accomplishments we are disgusted and upset with our leadership. Again and again we are told to be patient we're doing what we can. The athletic director at Reed deserves and award, raise, promotion, or medal. Being the one everyone points to for the problem is unfair to say the least. The responsibility falls solely on the administration and district office, for they are the ones making the decisions and not having to act as the public spokesperson. Like sports or not be proud of your students accomplishments and support them. Football is the only money making program you have at your school. I dont see anyone paying money to watch the kids reading in the library. The kids absolutely need a education and a very good one at that. They have accomplished a lot in the last 10 years, more than any other school in the district. How are they recognized? By embarrassing them enough to have to play at another schools field because ours have been neglected for far too long. I guess all the money raised from the cell towers and solar panels goes to other programs.
Reality Check
November 25, 2013
If the football field is unplayable what about the practice fields. They are far worse. The risk of one game does not compare to the hours and hours that Reed football players spend practicing on the inadequate practice fields. This is why the football team practices on the baseball field and has destroyed the grass in right field. The inequality between the facilities at the public schools is beyond comprehension. The facilities on Baring are the worst in the school district. No money should be spent at any school in the district until Reed is improved dramatically. It is time for the district and school to stop giving lip service and actually do something.
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