NCAA officials, U address fan behavior

Almost all behavior problems that require security or the police involve alcohol.

Jake Grovum

As students all over the country head to football stadiums, they sometimes bring with them headaches for security guards and school administrators.

More than 300 security guards and police officers are assigned to patrol the Metrodome to help keep fans under control during football games, Scott Ellison, associate athletics director for events and facilities management, said.

“There’s a lot of drinking issues,” he said. “Very seldom do you see non-alcohol related issues that require security or the police to step in.”

Officials see conduct concerns at all Gopher events, but football games have the highest attendance and are the source of most of them, Ellison said.

Last week, NCAA President Myles Brand addressed fan behavior in a podcast posted by the NCAA. With conduct concerns extending across the nation, Brand said it is up to those hosting the event to monitor behavior.

The NCAA doesn’t allow alcohol in events it hosts, such as the Final Four, Brand said, and if an institution chooses to serve they are responsible for controlling behavior.

“The fact of the matter is, I don’t think alcohol is the sole problem, but it certainly makes things worse,” he said. “I think the universities can keep things better under control if they make sure that when people enter the stadium they are sober.”

With nearly 10,000 University

students at every football game, officials try to ward off any potential concerns before they ever make it into the stadium.

“Everybody is patted down at the dome – everybody – students and the regular fan base as well,” Ellison said. “We try to catch as much alcohol and whatever else at the gate.”

Despite their efforts, problem fans still find their way into games and officials keep a watchful eye, particularly for those who look drunk, Ellison said.

A person who is “obviously drunk, to the point where they can’t even stand up” would be asked to leave the game, Ellison said.

“We’re not looking to go after people,” he said. “We tend to try to be as proactive as we can at the gate, and then we react once we get everyone into the stadium.”

At the Metrodome, if a fan is removed from a game they can’t come back the same day, Ellison said, and officials log complaints to watch for reccurring issues.

“If we’re getting called to a certain seat or a certain section every game and it’s the same person Ö every game we’ll probably end up pulling those tickets,” he said. “It’s obvious this person doesn’t get it.”

While University officials have their plans in place, the issue of how to regulate behavior “without creating a heavy hand” is a complicated one, Brand said, and universities have to be “sensible.”

If a group in the stadium is creating a disturbance, Brand said “it’s the obligation of the school to say you are no longer invited to this game and we don’t want to see you again here.”

Aside from individual cases, officials also face problems when students start chants that might be less than family friendly, but there isn’t much that can be done, Ellison said.

“It’s like trying to stop the wave at a game, how do you stop that?” he said. “I don’t know how you stop 10,000 students from chanting something; if somebody has an idea, let me know.”

While efforts to monitor the droves of fans at sporting events continue, University first-year Chris Lucia said most students are left alone.

“There is a lot of drinking, but that’s kind of to be expected,” he said. “As long as you’re not being loud and acting like you’re belligerently drunk, they’ll more or less leave you alone.”

After attending every football game this season, Lucia said for the most part there aren’t a lot of issues.

“(They) go after those who are creating a problem, which I think is a good way to look at it,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like there have been any huge problems.”