In December 2004 the Southeastern Conference became the first league to institute rules prohibiting fans from celebrating big wins by rushing the court or field. If a school failed in keeping spectators off the court they’d be fined, with the amount being $5,000 for a first offense, $25,000 for a second and $50,000 for a third.
Friday on the final day of the conference’s annual meetings, the SEC announced that fans rushing the court would cost its member schools even more in the future.
Instead of $5,000, a first offense will cost a school $50,000 with the fines for second and third offenses increasing to $100,000 and $250,000, respectively. These changes were approved by the schools, and the commissioner would be allowed to apply additional penalties (those aren’t specified in the announcement) if he saw fit to do so.
“This is designed to be a deterrent,” outgoing SC commissioner Mike Slive said, according to ESPN.com. “This is designed to try to change the culture about rushing the field, understanding that it’s viewed by some as a tradition. But it’s a tradition that runs into the question of health and safety of not only the fans themselves but the coaches and players.”
Also of note in this change is the fact that after the third offense, $250,000 is the least that a school would pay for its fans rushing the court of field. Originally the counting of offenses would “reset” three years after the first instance of fans violating the rule.
With the problems experienced at the conclusion of Thursday’s game between New Mexico State and Utah Valley, the debate regarding court-storming is once again active in college basketball. Should court-storming be banned? That’s a question individual schools and their conferences will be left to address, but one conference that’s ahead of the curve in this regard is the SEC.
The SEC made its move back in 2004, prohibiting fans from rushing the court (or field, in the case of sports such as football) and instituted fines for schools whose fans violate the rule. For a first offense a school can be fined $5,000, with fines rising to as high as $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for a third.
South Carolina fans rushed the court on Saturday at the end of their 72-67 win over No. 17 Kentucky, and such an occurrence could dampen the mood of some administrators. But not South Carolina president Harris Pastides, who even joined in on the fun after realizing his school was going to lose money anyway according to Thad Moore of the Daily Gamecock.
For some court-storming leads to discussions in regards to which programs should do so, and which ones have done far too much to “stoop” to such a level. Not here. The biggest concern should be safety, not whether or not a school is too prestigious to have its students celebrate on the court. That’s why the SEC put its rules in place.
And for the leagues that don’t have a rule prohibiting court-storming, the wall of security that kept fans away from Syracuse and Virginia players at the conclusion of their game on Saturday would be a good example to follow.
With there being no reports of anyone being injured during South Carolina’s rushing of the court, what’s wrong with a little fun despite the fact that it’s likely to cost the school some money?