The NCAA has a court storming conundrum. Here’s how to fix it

The NCAA has a court storming conundrum. Here's how to fix it
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College basketball has a court storming conundrum, and as the calendar turns to March, the NCAA only has so much time to act before it’s too late.

The debate began following unranked Wake Forest’s 83-79 upset win over No. 8 Duke. As Demon Deacon fans began to pour onto the court with time still left on the game clock, a fan collided with Blue Devils star Kyle Filipowski, who suffered an ankle injury.

“What happened the other day, watching it live, it could have been a lot worse,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said during an ACC media teleconference on Monday. “Filipowski didn’t appear to be prepared to brace himself for it.”

Filipowski only suffered a minor injury and led Duke to an 84-59 rout of unranked Louisville just four days after the incident.

The situation occurred only a month after Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark took a brutal hit from an Ohio State fan following the Buckeyes’ 100-92 win over the Hawkeyes. Thankfully, Clark, like Filipowski, did not miss any time due to the collision.

“Across college athletics, we have seen far too many of these incidents that put individuals at serious risk, and it will require the cooperation of all — including spectators — to ensure everyone’s well-being,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement following the Duke-Wake Forest fiasco. “As a conference, we will continually assess with our schools the best way to protect our student-athletes, coaches, and fans.”

That’s two individual court storming collisions before the calendar reaches March. With that, court storming has suddenly become a central talking point between NCAA officials, coaches, players, talking heads, and fans.

“Let’s get rid of it, totally,” Self said.

While significant rule changes like banning court-storming usually occur in the offseason, if the safety of the players and coaches are in question, the NCAA can only afford to take so many chances, especially with the madness of March drawing ever so near by the day. 

“Absolutely we shouldn’t wait until next year, something should be done right now,” Duke head coach Jon Scheyer said during Monday’s ACC call. “At the end of the day, players and coaches and officials are the only people that belong on a court.”

Sports, especially college sports, are all about tradition. Court-storming is one of the most infamous traditions in college sports; it’s something you won’t see on such a large scale anywhere else. But once someone gets hurt, especially two of the biggest stars in college basketball, questions naturally arise.

At what point does the NCAA draw the line between tradition and safety?

“I understand that that’s been a part of college basketball forever, but now it’s starting to get a little too violent because there are so many people getting caught in the middle,” Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway said on Sunday following his group’s win over Florida Atlantic.

Unfortunately, it took incidents involving some of the best college basketball players in the country to begin these conversations, but that’s the most effective way that rules and regulations will eventually be put in to improve the game moving forward. With problems like this naturally comes an outpouring of possible solutions, but are any of these solutions viable?

Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne believes the NCAA should go as far as to have court storming result in an automatic forfeit for the school’s perpetrators. 

“You have two kids run out there, no, but when you have a sustained rush like what just happened the other day at Wake, you lose the game,” Byrne told reporters in Birmingham on Monday. “That will get people to stop.” 

The problem with this is that the players and coaches who were the ones who competed have no control over what the fans in the stands are planning to do that night. In this scenario, the NCAA would punish a team for something entirely out of their control.

ESPN’s Seth Greenberg proposed three solutions to the NCAA’s court storming conundrum in a viral graphic over the weekend. Let’s review each of Greenberg’s solutions and see if there’s anything valuable in his proposal.

The one-minute grace period

“First and foremost, you wanna court storm? That’s great; the game ends, give me one minute,” Greenberg said. “I call it the one-minute grace period. One minute to give the visiting team a chance to get off the court. Once that one minute passes, the buzzer goes off; here come students. They run to the middle of the floor, take pictures, hug, and jump up and down. Life is good.”

This solution sounds great, in theory, but we need to take a deeper dive and understand the mentality of a mob. A hundred security guards, naturally, can’t stop thousands of students from rushing the floor, so what’s stopping fans from storming the court before that one-minute grace period is over? The one-minute grace period Greenberg proposes doesn’t get us any closer to solving the problem.

Taking the party to the stands

In this solution, Greenberg proposes that the second the game ends, the visiting team immediately gets off the court. Once the court is clear, players from the home team go to the student section to celebrate the victory amongst each other.

Again, this idea sounds great in theory, but nothing stops students from storming the court in this scenario. Greenberg doesn’t seem to understand here that students storm the court knowing there are no repercussions, not because they care to celebrate with their team’s players and coaches. There must be some deterrent or punishment that would scare fans away from the floor once the clock hits zeros.

The $1 million fine

LSU was fined $100,000 by the SEC after fans stormed the court following Tyrell Ward’s mind-numbing, game-winning buzzer-beater that secured the win over No. 17 Kentucky. The fine is the standard punishment the SEC dishes out to their programs after any court storming scenarios, but Greenberg thinks it should be even more significant. 

“It’s a $1 million fine, not $100,000,” Greenberg said. “One hundred thousand dollars is nothing to the SEC; $1,000,000? That gets your attention.”

The problem with a $1 million fine is that the perpetrators, the students, still have no deterrent for rushing the floor following a huge upset win. A $1 million fine could kill a smaller DI college basketball program.

Having a universal punishment for court storming is challenging, as every situation, school, and program differs. The punishment for storming the court should affect the students, not the players, coaches, programs, or schools.

While there’s no easy fix, the NCAA only has so much time to fix its court-storming conundrum before someone gets seriously hurt.


About Marc Lemoine 1446 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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