Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski recently expressed how he feels about opposing schools storming the court after defeating top college basketball programs—this came following an away loss to the University of Virginia.
“Put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach, you’re a [expletive],’ or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.”
Duke’s 73-68 loss to Virginia marked the fourth time opposing schools stormed the court against Coach K’s squad. NC State, Miami (FL) and Maryland’s students previously rushed the court against the (now) No. 3 Blue Devils.
Coach K’s concern for protection is a legitimate cause for ACC officials to review the league’s current—and non-existing—policy regarding court storming.
But why, after the fourth occasion, is Krzyzewski now making a call for help? Why not use his celeb-like status as head coach of one of the nation’s top college basketball programs to express his concern about safety earlier, especially when it was obvious students (and players) were being put in dangerous situations?
Because March Madness is right around the corner, that’s why.
Perhaps the most interesting quote from Coach K came when he said, “What if [a player] did something? That would be the story.”
Coach K, you are right, that would be the story. But are you really concerned with student and player safety, or are you concerned about keeping your star players eligible for the upcoming NCAA tournament?
“The 66-year-old Krzyzewski stopped and hollered an F-bomb at a fan before security could drag him away. Right behind the Hall of Fame coach were his players, some cursing at fans, some ignoring it and ducking into the hallway. Assistant coach Jeff Capel went back and yelled a few curse words while another assistant coach, Steve Wojciechowski, did his best to quickly usher players into the safe area.”
What would be interesting is if the NCAA followed up such an incident by punishing programs whose athletes or coaching staff were involved in post-game altercations with opposing fans (similar to the infamous “Malice at the Palace,” where NBA players were suspended for a combined 146 games and fined $11 million).
But that's another story for another day.
According to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, “The SEC has a fine system of $5,000 for a first [court storming] offense, $25,000 for a second, [and] $50,000 for a third.” But the NCAA and collegiate conferences should not place further sanctions on court storming.
Student-athletes who are under the media spotlight should already know to control their post-game emotions. Having the potential to be future professionals, Division I athletes should be coached how to handle such situations.
Rushing the court is an old basketball tradition that even used to occur in the NBA. Now known as an unique part of the college game, students and players alike will miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity if the NCAA were to place a ban on court storming.
So to all college basketball fans in favor of banning students from rushing the court, shame on you. This is one tradition the NCAA cannot, and should not ban.