- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2002

The cryptic slogan was plastered on bus stops, scrawled in chalk on sidewalks, emblazoned on T-shirts, pasted in business windows "Act Like You Know," or sometimes just "ALYK."
For 10 days this fall, students at the University of Maryland at College Park, were blitzed with the underground-style message, all over campus. They had no idea what to know, let alone how to act.
Terrapins football coach Ralph Friedgen filled in the blanks at the team's Sept. 14 game against Florida State University, appearing on the stadium screen to complete the slogan: "Act like you know we're champions."
Translation: Behave yourself.
Plagued by a series of high-profile and damaging post-game riots, the campaign is a bid to prevent violence by changing student attitudes about how to celebrate. School officials acknowledge it won't end their problems, but they hope it will lead students to think before they act.
"A lot of students get caught up in the notion that if there is a celebration, they are less accountable," said Terry Flannery, executive director of university marketing and communications. "We'd like students to think about what is stupid and what is acceptable, about how we can come to some agreement on how to behave."
Not all students welcomed being told how to act. The student newspaper, the Diamondback, ran editorials criticizing the university for spending $30,000 on the sportsmanship campaign. The slogan spawned parody Web sites, including an expletive-laced site ranting against the campaign.
"I don't know how effective it's going to be," said freshman Chris Ames, 18, as he locked up his bicycle outside the university's arts center. "I've heard a lot from people who don't care because they know it's coming from the university."
Maryland's football and basketball teams have had unprecedented success recently. Mr. Friedgen's team won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship last season and the men's basketball team won the national title this spring after reaching the Final Four in 2001.
But the victories were marred by violence. The families of Duke University basketball players were pelted with bottles and trash during a 2001 game. Students and other rioters did $500,000 worth of damage in College Park after a Final Four loss to Duke that season.
Riot police shooting pepper-spray pellets were called in to clear thousands of fans who lit bonfires and threw bottles after both of Maryland's Final Four games this year.
In response, the University System of Maryland's board of regents passed a policy mandating expulsion for any student caught rioting. The university tried to offer diversions during the Final Four, such as post-game parties in Cole Field House. But students still flooded U.S. Route 1.
Over the summer, a group of 15 students met with administrators to come up with a campaign to teach sportsmanship, geared toward incoming freshman.
The task force settled on the slogan "Act Like You Know," a twist on a phrase used by former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry to discourage players' end-zone showboating after touchdowns. "Act like you've been there before," the low-key coach would say.
The underground-style approach was meant to grab students' attention, said task force member Mandie Boardman, a 22-year-old senior.
"Usually, anything that comes from the university, students push it aside. We needed to get it out without people knowing it was from the university to give it a chance," she said.
The message blanketed campus before the Florida State game, appearing on stickers, fliers, posters and coasters.
A public-service ad, set to fast-paced rock music, aired at the stadium. The school persuaded local bars to promote the slogan, distributing "ALYK" stamps for bouncers to mark the hands of students entering a bar.
The administration enlisted the help of Mr. Friedgen and basketball coach Gary Williams, who appeared in public-service announcements promoting sportsmanship.
The administration defends the $30,000 price tag by comparing it to the estimated $600,000 in damages and security costs incurred over the past two years because of riots.
But the Diamondback ran a Sept. 16 editorial calling the campaign "useless," pointing out that the university will probably still spend money on security after big games even if there is no fan violence.
"They admit themselves the campaign cannot and will not prevent future riots," said Diamondback editor Jay Parsons.
"In addition to the $30,000, we are still paying the additional costs of extra security."


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