College coaches, leaders call for court-storming regulations

ByMyron Medcalf ESPN logo
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- On Monday, Jon Scheyer, Bill Self and other college basketball leaders called for a ban on court storming in college basketball due to safety concerns and potential legal impacts for athletes and students.

The conversation about court storming escalated over the weekend after Duke star Kyle Filipowski was bumped by Wake Forest fans who spilled onto the floor following the Demon Deacons' 83-79 win over the Blue Devils on Saturday. That incident unfolded just weeks after a fan ran into women's basketball superstar Caitlin Clark after Iowa's upset loss at Ohio State.

On the ACC media teleconference call on Monday, Scheyer said the ACC should implement a court-storming ban now and not wait to address the issue this offseason. He said Filipowski avoided major injury during the court-storming incident but was "a little bit sore" on Monday. Scheyer initially said Filipowski had suffered an ankle injury. The projected lottery pick in this summer's NBA draft was carried off the court by his teammates after the collision.

Eleven conferences -- the Atlantic 10, Big East, Big South, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-Eastern Athletic, Pac-12, WAC, Southeastern and West Coast -- recently told ESPN that the home school for a court storm could be subject to a fine under certain circumstances.

The ACC does not issue fines for court storming, and a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Associated Press that the league does not intend to fine Wake Forest for Saturday's incident.

"Absolutely we shouldn't wait until next year, something should be done right now," Scheyer said during the ACC call. "At the end of the day, players and coaches and officials are the only people that belong on a court."

Self said he has witnessed the safety issues firsthand during multiple court storms after road losses throughout his career.

In 2012, Self had to help referee Darron George off the court after he suffered a broken arm as Iowa State fans stormed the floor following an upset over the Jayhawks. In 2015, a Kansas State fan bumped former Kansas forward Jamari Traylor during another court storm after an upset of Kansas.

"Let's get rid of it, totally," Self told ESPN on Monday. "I don't see the positive impact from a visual standpoint. Our game has excitement and people are excited about college basketball so much. [Court storming] isn't as big of a positive as a potential negative that exists with somebody getting hurt or lawsuits. Can you imagine a kid storms the court, runs into somebody, he gets sued and his life is changed forever? It works both ways. Or, somebody runs into one of our players, our player [lifts their arms] to protect themselves and catches somebody right in the Adam's apple or hits them in the temple and they get a concussion or something? That's a lawsuit against them."

Self said he watched the video of the Wake Forest court storming on Saturday and believed Filipowski had no opportunity to prepare for the moment when fans ran onto the court. He described it as a dangerous situation which the leagues could alleviate with stiffer penalties.

"What happened the other day, watching it live, it could have been a lot worse," Self said. "Filipowski didn't appear to be prepared to brace himself for it."

Self said Kansas has "probably been stormed on about as much as anybody," so he now tries to prepare his players if opposing fans might run onto the court. He said he tries to ensure his players are near the sideline as the clock winds down in those situations. However, it's not always possible to create a safe scenario.

Plus, it's not his job to keep his team safe when fans storm the court, he said.

"The safety measures, up until recently, have been with the visiting team educating their own players on how to handle [court storming]," Self said. "Like calling a timeout with 15 seconds left and it's a 10-point game, just to get guys out of the game or whatever or tell them don't go out there, stand next to the sideline. Those things happen. But even with that, that should not be the responsibility of the visiting team to educate their guys."

Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway said court storming had previously been a fun moment for fans to celebrate an upset victory. In recent years, however, the tone around court storming has changed, he said.

"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," he said on Sunday after his team's win over Florida Atlantic. "Usually, the students will come out and go around the players, let the players come off the court and let security grab them. Now, it's like they're trying to let the players see them or to say something [to them]. You want the safety of the fans along with the players. I think you should let the team exit. If you feel like you're going to storm the court and you're going to allow it, you don't do a handshake line."

The coaches aren't the only ones steering the conversation. Brett Yormark, the Big 12's commissioner, told "Outside the Lines" on Monday that he and the other major commissioners plan to address court storming in the near future.

"I can tell you [Tuesday] in fact, I have a call with some of my commissioner colleagues and we are going to address it because it's not a conference issue, it's an industry issue and something that, you know, we need to address collectively," Yormark said on the show. "And those conversations are being had, and formally we will have one tomorrow and we'll see where it takes us."

Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne went as far as saying he thinks teams should have to forfeit in scenarios like the Duke-Wake Forest game.

"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."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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