Schools Strategize Against Dangers of Court-Storming

Paul Steinbach Headshot

College crowdCollege crowd On Jan. 21, the three remaining undefeated teams in Division I men's basketball - Pittsburgh, Duke and Florida - all lost. At the conclusion of each game - played before upset-minded home crowds on the campuses of St. John's, Georgetown and Tennessee, respectively - fans stormed the court to revel in their team's victory.

While such postgame celebrations have become increasingly commonplace, how they are viewed varies widely. Some see the displays of unbridled joy as one more thing that makes college basketball special; others see a danger. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, for one, saw enough of a potential safety problem unfold on the floor of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena that he complained to the Southeastern Conference commissioner's office.

Foley's concern was based in part on a February 2004 incident during which a court-rushing fan at the University of Georgia took a swing at former Florida guard Matt Walsh. By December 2004, roughly two weeks removed from the infamous on-field brawl between the football teams from Clemson and South Carolina, the SEC had in place a policy allowing its commissioner to fine schools that fail to stop basketball and football spectators from entering the competition area. The Big Ten is the only other conference among the major six that currently employs a penalty system with fines to address such security failures.

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