Schools examine safety around rushing the court
College basketball programs are taking a look at safety when fans storm the court.
It was December 10, 2011. Fans in Bloomington exuberantly stormed the court at Indiana University after the upset of top-ranked Kentucky. At the time, it seemed like chaos, but it was organized chaos.
"Before that happened, I thought we might win the game. 'What happens if we win and we storm the court?' and they are, like, 'It's much more dangerous if we push back kids who are trying to storm the court because of the parade effect, getting squished and all of that. It's better to funnel that in a controlled way.' So that is what we did," said IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.
It would capture the imagination of the nation and set off a series of storm-the-court victories this year. Glass says at IU there are staff members dedicated to ushering the opposing team, officials and media out of the frenzy.
At the time, Kentucky head coach John Calipari said he would not bring his team back to Bloomington because of safety concerns. Many took that as nothing more than a losing team wanting to explicate itself from a can't win scenario, but Thursday night when Virginia upset Duke, safety concerns were expressed again.
"I think it's a natural expression of the excitement of fans," said fan Giff Reed.
The fans understand the safety concerns, but they also reserve the right to be fans.
"Should be allowed. You upset a team you've been looking forward to the entire week. You are all pumped up. Big part of the college experience, being able to storm the court. You grew up watching it, it's what you want to do," said Nick Johnson.
"Storming the court just shows the passion of the school. Everyone is pumped up. It's just something you just gotta do," said Tyler Sarsfield.
Glass says he leaves the safety issue up to the host schools, like Williams Arena in Minneapolis where the Golden Gophers upset the Hoosiers earlier this week.
"We are worthy of being stormed against, which is a badge of respect, so that doesn't bother me. To the victor goes the spoils," Glass said.
And when it happens at Assembly Hall?
"I'm good with that, but it is our responsibility to make sure it happens in a safe way," Glass said.
And that will continue to be the key.