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Graney: Court storming should be banned from college basketball

There is no unanimous opinion. No automatic solution.

I have one: Court storming should be banned.

And not because I don’t love watching it. I do.

But there is enough evidence now that waiting until something extremely serious occurs makes no sense.

The topic has been debated for decades and yet took center court again this past month.

First, it was Iowa star Caitlin Clark colliding with a woman during an Ohio State victory storming.

Then, on Saturday, Duke player Kyle Filipowski was injured as Wake First students rushed the court following their team’s win against the Blue Devils.

There are many who believe that had those involved not been the most popular of college players in Clark and one from the blue-blood program that is Duke, little would have been made of the court storming topic.

Maybe, but be glad it was. It draws attention to the issue. Which is needed.

A ‘special moment’

“Obviously, player safety is priority 1-2-3-4 and so on,” UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said Monday. “You love to see the excitement of a program. It’s part of college sports. But you somehow have to make sure everyone is safe or that there are really harsh penalties if that’s not the case.”

Kruger remembers when he was a UNLV player and the Rebels beat a ranked Air Force team at the Thomas & Mack Center. Remembers how the student body rushed the court.

“It was a special moment for our program in an incredibly meaningful game with a great home crowd,” he said. “At the same time, it would have been terrible if someone on Air Force would have gotten hurt.”

Some think hiring more security would help. Others suggest having a mandatory pause of, say, 30 seconds before anyone is allowed to storm their way down would and allow the losing team to leave the court safely.

Problem: You’re dealing with students, some of whom have likely consumed one or 10 “beverages” before the final horn sounds. Often, you’re dealing with thousands of them.

(The kids, not the beverages, but it could be both.)

It’s chaotic. The adrenaline is pumping at 100 mph. Most students don’t even wait for the clock to hit zero before beginning their mad dash.

I get it. It’s part of the college experience. It’s what has happened seemingly forever. It’s a symbol of athletics at this level.

But short of deeming the game a forfeit by the winning team (not going to happen) should students storm the court, there are few reasonable options left to ensure player safety.

Some conferences fine teams if their fans storm the court, but most of the latter have little issue paying the number if it means securing such a significant victory.

Some have suggested citations and arrests for those who storm. Ban it before it comes to such things.

“I’ve never been part of one either way,” said UNLV center Kalib Boone, who transferred from Oklahoma State of the Big 12. “I would think it’s a great moment, a great experience, something most athletes would want to be part of. Losing such a game would stink, but I’m down with it if everyone can be safe.”

It all makes for a great scene. It all makes for great TV highlights. It all seems to be happening more and more.

But things also can go terribly wrong. And if a school doesn’t have a competent security plan in place — believe me, everyone knows beforehand if an impending storm might arrive — then you’re asking for trouble or the potential for it.

Addressing it

“The concern is always going to be something negative happening in the moment,” former UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. “It’s a fun celebration. To have that memory for students is nice. But you can’t do it at the expense of an injury. Address it and try to prevent it in the future is important.”

You can address it by banning it.

It’s great to watch. Exciting as all heck.

Not so great if something really serious occurs.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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