© 2024 Public Radio East
Public Radio For Eastern North Carolina 89.3 WTEB New Bern 88.5 WZNB New Bern 91.5 WBJD Atlantic Beach 90.3 WKNS Kinston 88.5 WHYC Swan Quarter 89.9 W210CF Greenville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A coach asks 'When are we going to ban court storming?' A solution isn't seen as all that easy

Wins over the Duke or Kentucky men or women’s basketball powerhouses like Iowa, UConn or South Carolina can lead fans to surge onto courts and create chaotic and potentially dangerous situations.
Gerry Broome
Associated Press
Wins over the Duke or Kentucky men or women’s basketball powerhouses like Iowa, UConn or South Carolina can lead fans to surge onto courts and create chaotic and potentially dangerous situations.

College basketball fans have been storming courts to celebrate for at least 75 years.

Kurt Kemper, a history professor at Dakota State who has written about college sports, recalls that students and cheerleaders alike took to the court at Madison Square Garden after City College won both the 1950 NIT and NCAA tournaments. It happened again in the 1958 College Division championship won by the University of South Dakota.

But, Kemper notes, “these were mild in comparison” to what is happening now, with small groups replaced by entire student sections sprinting onto the court, phones in hand. Since the last week of January alone, there have been at least eight court stormings from Richmond, Virginia, to Corvallis, Oregon, and many points in between. On Feb. 21, there were three in a matter of hours.

The spontaneous displays of jubilation are generally seen as a treasured hallmark of college basketball, but concerns over player and staff safety have been growing for 20 years. The Southeastern Conference banned it in 2004 and other conferences have added or stiffened school fines; other leagues do not have specific punishments in place.

Potential injuries. Recent incidents involving Duke player Kyle Filipowski and Iowa star Caitlin Clark have put the topic front and center.

Clark, the player of the year last season and a strong candidate again this year, was knocked down accidentally by a fan at Ohio State. Filipowski banged his knee against a fan at Wake Forest and had to be helped off the court. LSU women's star Angel Reese was knocked down after the Tigers men's team knocked off Kentucky — she was there as a fan — and said it was “worth it.”

Duke coach Jon Scheyer put it plainly: “When are we going to ban court storming? Like, when are we going to ban that? How many times does a player have to get into something where they get punched or they get pushed or they get taunted right in their face? It’s a dangerous thing.”


It is difficult to stop true heat-of-the-moment celebrations. But experts say fines; added security/police; specific plans for getting visiting teams off the court more hastily; and a warning for fans ahead of the final horn are all part of the equation.Brandon Allen of the National Center for Sports Safety and Security suggested punishing offending fans with penalties like losing season ticket rights and warning them to let visiting teams leave the court before rushing it.Other suggestions have included using face-recognition software to identify fans on the court to punish them later as well as surrounding the celebrating fans and slowly but surely identifying and ticketing them.A dramatic suggestion that would throw out the results on the court came from Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, who said teams whose fans rush the court lose the game by forfeit.


The Southeastern Conference fined LSU $100,000 after fans surged onto the court following the Kentucky upset. A second offense means a $250,000 fine and it doubles to $500,000 for a third strike after rules updates imposed last summer. Unlike in the past, that money goes directly to the visiting school.Four of the six major basketball conferences fine host schools for a first offense of failing to keep fans off the court. The ACC does not levy fines and the Big Ten waits until a third offense. Allen doesn't believe that's an effective deterrent in the heat of the moment or necessarily fair to the schools being fined.


After the incident at Wake Forest, athletic director John Currie said school officials had rehearsed postgame procedures for protecting the visiting team and game officials but “we clearly must do better.” Security personnel were also present at Ohio State when Clark was knocked down by a fan.The SEC’s new rules require more uniformed law enforcement protection for teams before, during and after games. Not just security guards.Jeremy Hammond, an assistant commissioner of the SEC, said there has been an added emphasis on protecting visiting teams and getting them safely to the locker rooms, instead of just trying to build a wall of security in front of the student section.


Scheyer mentioned a 10-second window for players to get off the court before fans are able to run onto it. Or teams could pull benches to the tunnel early and/or simply skip the handshake of players and coaches.Kansas coach Bill Self said he thinks there are some ways a visiting team can prepare for those end-of-game situations — especially if the game doesn't go down to the final seconds.“I mean, calling a timeout with 15 seconds left and it’s a 10-point game to get guys out of the game, or telling them don’t go out there, stand by the sideline,” he said.

In other words, getting them a chance to exit before the fans can get onto the court. A nailbiter game where either team can win? That is another matter altogether.