- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2001

The University of Maryland will introduce several new rules regarding crowd control following an incident Saturday night at Cole Field House when three mothers of Duke players were hit with objects thrown from the student sections after the Terps' loss.

"What bothered me the most was it wasn't just a handful of incidents," said Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow, who plans to have between two and four changes in place by the Terps' next home game Sunday. "I have seen the postgame arena videotape, when the most egregious activity occurred. For approximately 50 seconds, debris was thrown towards the visiting team section in a calculated manner, designed to hit visitors sitting behind the bench… . They have taken their behavior to a whole new level, and we will act appropriately."

University president C.D. Mote called the latest troubles at Cole "hooliganism." Renee Boozer, mother of Duke center Carlos Boozer, was hit with a partially filled water bottle and suffered a mild concussion after the Blue Devils rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final minute to win the game. Supporters of the visiting team sit in a section behind the bench, right in front of one of the student sections. The ACC also is investigating the acts of violence.

One of the new restrictions likely will be a ban on throwing objects. The university had allowed the tradition of students holding newspapers in front of their faces as the opponents are introduced, then balling up those papers after the introductions and throwing them in the direction of the visitors bench.

"I don't need idiots throwing things at the court to take something away from what we've tried to do here," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who added that it is easy to put a dangerous object inside the wad of paper. "There are laws about inciting riots. You can't throw anything on the court zero tolerance in that area."

The new restrictions may also address profanity. A number of students wore shirts saying, "[Expletive] Duke." Yow attempted to ban students wearing those shirts from attending the game but was told by attorneys the school couldn't regulate that type of free speech. The university did confiscate a large number of the shirts when they found the distributor outside.

Because the latest incidents were so widespread, they were particularly troubling to Yow. There was a fight two seasons ago at a Duke-Maryland game at Cole and other incidents that Yow feels were isolated.

However, Maryland has drawn a reputation as a dangerous place to play. Sports Illustrated, in its preseason college basketball issue, rated Cole the toughest place to play in the ACC. One ACC player said it was difficult to play when "ice chips and batteries" are thrown on the floor. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had enough bad experiences namely flying objects at Cole that he refuses to bring his family to games in College Park.

"We haven't been as concerned in other arenas as we are there," Krzyzewski said. "We, basically, have had things thrown at us every year. There is a tradition there of throwing [newspapers] at the other team after they are introduced, which I personally think isn't a good tradition because you condone throwing things. Something can take the place of paper. Over the years, something has. And something did [on Saturday]."

Several students, while expressing sympathy for the victims, feel no new regulations are needed.

"It gets rowdy," said Rossana Lin, a sophomore from Rockville, Md. "It's college students. What do you expect? Everybody was upset that Duke won. It's not right that somebody was hurt, but I'm not surprised because it was such a big game. I don't think we should be banned from throwing papers. It's a tradition."

Said Zachary Gibbs, a sophomore from Upper Marlboro, Md.: "It's kind of uncivilized. Sometimes it gets kind of bad. There have been occasions where throwing things at people was intentional. But I don't think it is that bad that we need to tighten up with new restrictions."

A letter by Williams appeared today in the university's newspaper, the Diamondback, making a plea for better behavior at games. He asked students to stop throwing objects and said that "the chant of [expletive] Duke must stop." The coach, who is dealing with one of the more difficult losses of his career, was forced to take time to reprimand his school's student body.

"I am an alumnus," Williams said before the team traveled to Virginia for tonight's game. "I'm very embarrassed. I assumed other alumni like myself feel the same way because we have a great basketball team. Even after the game, we are still ranked 10th in the country. How could we take away from what we do as a basketball team? Well, that's one way. That's national TV. It's like 'Yeah, that's Maryland.' We don't need that. We worked too hard to bring this program up."


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