Conference USA fined East Carolina $10,000 for allowing fans to storm the field after their upset win over West Virginia a little over a week ago. The message? Do a more thorough job of beating your fans, ECU.
A state agency is investigating the police action taken after the game, when literally thousands of people descended upon the playing surface and a lucky few ended up with a baton upside their head. Apparently, the agency has been asked to decide whether or not police used “excessive force” in dealing with the jubilant fans. Yeah, I think celebrating a win with your team on the field and doing something that millions of people have done over the years and doesn’t really hurt anyone else warrants four or five punches in the face.
SPORTS NETWORK (via the SEATTLE P-I) says:
Conference USA policy states that “spectators should not be permitted on the field of play until the visiting team and officials have made safe transition to the locker room.”
Got that, folks? Next time, wait five minutes, then storm the field. That won’t ruin the moment at all.
The RALEIGH TELEGRAM tries to sort out what went wrong:
Students and fans were understandably jubilant at the outcome of the football game last Saturday and in a time-honored tradition that has been seen in college football for decades, the fans were ready to storm the field after the game was over. However, East Carolina stadium officials seemed to give conflicting signals about what they could do.
Although announcers asked fans to stay off the field, many could not hear those statements during the roar of the crowd. Police officers cordoned off student sections, but several “non-student” sections of the stadium with older fans were seemingly left unblocked. In addition, ECU sports officials even went ahead and took down the goal posts in anticipation of a fan rush to keep them from being torn down.
The fine levied by C-USA is clearly designed to protect opposing players and game officials, but the combination of rowdy and often drunk fans with police who feel pressure to control a crowd just can’t end well. I’m not saying we should just let the fans go wherever they want, but perhaps the conference should spend more time ensuring that its member schools are prepared to deal with these incidents.