A little over a decade ago, after a mildly big win, a group of Texas Tech fans tore down a goalpost and tried to force it into the Texas A&M fan section. Some people got hurt. Texas Tech was “ashamed and embarrassed,” but not much else was done besides a slap on the wrist.
In 2009, Texas Tech came down to Houston a week after the Cougars beat No. 5 Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Houston scored late and stopped Tech’s final attempt, and before the clock even hit zero, the fans were storming the field.
After the game, still heated from wading through the humidity and fans, All-American guard Brandon Carter was suspended indefinitely for yelling at then-HC Mike Leach. It cost him his season and—one can assume—some draft stock.
However, the common denominator here is not Texas Tech. It’s the fans.
Sure, rushing the court is fun for these rabid fanatics and is one of the things that make college sports more intimate, but it needs to be done within reason.
Because when it’s not, the NCAA is asking its valued student athletes, riding high on emotion, and other 18-22-year-old kids, also riding high, to act like sane adults.
Which is why I propose this: Turn on the Play Clock or shot clock on one last time after play is over, and once it hits all zeros, let the students join their more athletic peers on the playing field or court.
Storming the court is not new, and this rule won’t solve every problem with storming the court. Honestly, the only reason this is getting more press recently is because one of the all-time greatest coaches spoke out.
After being upset again this season, this time by Virginia, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski complained to the media, saying that his players should be allowed to get off the court before the fans stormed the court.
“You need to get the team off first,” Krzyzewski said.
Coach K, again showing his wisdom, acknowledged that it is part of the game and shouldn’t be banned, but like all other facets of life, there is a time and a place.
“Look, celebrate, have fun, obviously you won, that’s cool. Just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on," continued Krzyzewski.
With this rule, everyone wins, and here's why.
The celebration lives on.
Since student-athlete and regular student equality is important to the NCAA, you allow them to be equals by celebrating on the same platform.
No threat of fine.
No one is taking anything away from students or institutions (like the SEC has) by threatening fines to schools whose fans storm the court. Come on, midterms are hard; let these kids blow of some steam.
It lets the excitement build.
For approximately 30 seconds, the fans get to stew in excitement and anticipation, while winning players get to celebrate momentarily with one another, egg on the crowd or mentally prepare for the bedlam.
It lessens the tension for the losing team.
Thirty seconds would be enough time to get the majority of your players off the field or court in these sorts of situations. Of course there would always be stragglers and players trying to find their buddies, but in most events, no one wants to talk to the other team or their fans much.
If any school is a repeat offender, then restrict the number of students they allow into the venue. While this is not a direct fine, it would cost students and school, and I suspect it would nip the problem in the bud. There would still be the need for security to hold the fans back and to ensure that they abide by the shot-clock rule, but this would cost much less than a fine, lawsuit or hospital bill.
And plus, it would be better for the athlete.
Just ask LeGarrette Blount how much a little fan interaction can cost you.