- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003

Some students who attend the University of Maryland at College Park say a riot that erupted after the Terrapins’ win over top-ranked University of Florida this week was “cool” and a good way to show “school pride.”

“When you beat the No. 1 team, that is something to get excited about,” said Tim Zhang, 19, and a freshman. “It was all in good fun.”

About 600 students poured out of dorms and into Byrd Stadium shortly after 10 Wednesday night following the Terps’ 69-68 basketball overtime victory over the Florida Gators.

Students trampled down muddy slopes in the pouring rain to the stadium chanting “Go Terps.” Several climbed the goal posts, attempting to tear them down, Maj. Cathy Atwell, spokeswoman for the University of Maryland Police Department, said yesterday.

Bobby Kim, 20, a junior, said he could see the riots from his dorm in the La Plata tower. “It was cool,” he said. “No one was hurt. They did not destroy anything. It was all in good fun,” said Mr. Kim, whose roommate rushed down to participate.

Police in riot gear tried to control the crowd and pulled students off the goal posts. Prince George’s County Police were called in to assist.

The students returned to their dorms 45 minutes later, but returned again about midnight, still trying to tear down the posts. After another standoff with police, the students retreated to their dorms.

“There seems to be a history of this,” Maj. Atwell said.

Gavin Westenburger, 19, said a friend rushed into his room at about 10 p.m. to tell him something was happening that he ought to see.

“It was a good way to show team spirit but when they start tearing stuff up, that is not good,” said Mr. Westenburger, a freshman.

Andrew Ascione, 18, a freshman, said the crowd appeared to be about 2,000 strong. Rumors swirled among students that police shot rioters with rubber bullets, but sophomore Will Brody, 19, said he didn’t think the police overreacted.

“I am sure people were getting a little out of hand,” he said.

The University of Maryland at College Park has become known for destructive post-game riots. There have been eight riots on the campus following major football and men’s basketball games since 2000.

Police worked through the night in April 2002 after the national championship victory against Kansas in the Final Four, when about 10,000 fans flooded Route 1 and fraternity row. In that riot, students started bonfires and lobbed bottles, and riot police shot pepper-spray pellets to clear the crowd.

Police said no arrests were made and nobody was injured during Wednesday’s riot.

“We are not investigating anything. We don’t have a crime,” Maj. Atwell said.


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