While a manifestation of the level of excitement surrounding college basketball, fans storming the court after major victories has been a topic of concern at the conference level for at least the past dozen years. At issue is safety of not only players but the fans themselves, as jubilation can quickly turn to chaos.
After eighth-ranked Texas Tech defeated number-two West Virginia on Saturday, many in the crowd of 15,098 at United Supermarkets Arena poured onto the court from both endlines. As fans passed the visitors’ bench, West Virginia forward Wesley Harris was bumped, prompting him to strike a Texas Tech fan with his forearm. Teammate Sagaba Konate likewise had to be restrained.
Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt called his WVU counterpart, Shane Lyons, to apologize. Video of the incident was sent to both schools and the Big 12 Conference, which is investigating the incident. The Big 12 doesn’t have a policy regarding the policing of court-storming fans, though the league commissioner was granted authority to publish member schools in 2015.
A West Virginia player threw a punch at a fan after the Texas Tech crowd stormed the court pic.twitter.com/rVfA0J2uRv— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 14, 2018
Having had a chance to review the video Sunday, Lyons admitted to 247Sports that Harris swung at a fan, but added, “The more I see it, honestly, the lack of support that they had for our team and our players was disturbing. Obviously, there was a lot more video than what was on the internet that showed a lack of security to even get players off the court. That obviously doesn’t diminish the issue itself with what happened, but I think if you don’t rush the court and if you have security, these things don’t rise to the level that actually occurred here.”
It was the fifth win against a ranked opponent for Texas Tech. West Virginia will host the Red Raiders on Feb. 26, and Lyons hopes Mountaineers fans are above court-storming. “We’re at a point in our basketball tradition and history where we shouldn’t be rushing the court,” Lyons said. “We’re at the top, so anybody we beat, why do we need to rush the court? We’ve been there and done that, and hopefully our fans and students realize that as well. We need to win with class.”