- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) A weekend of frightening scenes at college football games is forcing university presidents and the NCAA to try to find ways to stop violence on college campuses.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said he and school presidents from the conference will meet Sunday and discuss the issue.

Delany almost was caught in the middle of trouble last weekend. As he stood in the end zone near the end of Ohio State's 14-9 victory over Michigan, he was given the choice to stay or go. Fearful of what might happen, he left early.

The victory sent No.2 Ohio State to the Fiesta Bowl, where it will play for its first national championship since 1968, but it also set off a raucous celebration in Columbus, Ohio, and riots in the streets.

Students rushed the field, tried unsuccessfully to tear down the goal posts, and hours later set about 30 fires.

Saturday's trouble brought the problem of fan violence "into bold reflection," Delany said.

There were other cases. Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges said she "feared for her life" when fans littered the field with glass bottles and plastic souvenirs following the Huskies' 29-26 triple overtime victory over rival Washington State in Pullman.


•In Clemson, S.C., Tigers fans celebrated their 27-20 victory over South Carolina by tearing down the goal posts. In the rush, one woman and a police officer were injured.

•In Berkeley, Calif., the biggest skirmishes occurred between fans after California had beaten Stanford 30-7. Four arrests were made.

•In Raleigh, N.C., 21 fans were arrested and three were injured in a melee following N.C. State's 17-7 win over Florida State.

West Virginia is increasing security at Mountaineer Field, even though the team is playing 75 miles away on Saturday. And officials will be on the lookout for problems at other games, including Texas-Texas A&M, Miami-Syracuse and Hawaii-Alabama.

"This is the first time I've seen something like this, in a non-championship setting," said Richard Lapchick, a sports psychologist and chairman of Central Florida's sports business management program. "I think this explosion is to some degree a reflection of what's going on in our society."

The violence has led to renewed debates about policies, enforcement and security procedures. At the NCAA, officials are waiting to hear from university officials before deciding how to respond.

"It's a concern," NCAA spokeswoman Natalie Sutkowski said. "I have heard on television that there is concern among our constituents and there very well may be something that happens."

Some people have suggested stiffer penalties for fans, such as expulsion or criminal charges, are the only way to change how they respond to victories and defeats.

"I think part of the problem is a mentality that has developed over the country that this type of behavior is acceptable," N.C. State police chief Tom Younce said.

NCAA rules require each school to provide security and hold games in an environment that promotes respect, fairness, civility and responsibility. But that clearly wasn't the case last weekend.

"It was a war zone, like a game of dodgeball, except it wasn't fun," Washington wide receiver Paul Arnold said. "We were ducking and diving, trying to get out of there."

Delany wants to discourage such behavior, of course, but he also urges caution, knowing some ideas can backfire.

In October 1993, Wisconsin students tried to rush the field following a victory over Michigan and dozens were pinned in a narrow gap between the stands and a 4-foot chain link fence that was erected to keep fans off the field. Sixty-nine people were injured.

"It's a matter of what you're trying to protect and what you're trying to achieve," Delany said.

"There's an arsenal of things that could be done. We have to move further toward the side of civility."

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