Plan of Improvement

Along with West Virginia University's implementation of beer sales at home football games comes a new program designed to improve the fan experience.

The newly-minted "High Five Rules of the Game" is West Virginia's attempt to combat the increase of bad behavior in the stands at games. While University Chief of Police Bob Roberts said that the severity of incidents wer nothing compared to what they were in earlier years on the job, Director of Athletics Oliver Luck noted that general instances of bad behavior have been on the rise.

Studies of complaints received by the school led formulate the five rules, which are as follows:

1) No excessive drinking – intoxicated fans are not allowed inside or outside the stadium
2) No foul or abusive language
3) No smoking in the seating or concourse area
4) No throwing stuff (anything) onto the field
5) No ignoring of the instructions of Event/Security personnel

Luck said that the rules would be distributed via a variety of means, including mailings to ticket holders, a website, and distribution on game day by student groups in tailgate areas.

"We want to make sure people understand what the rules are," he explained. "We want to do this without impinging on the tremendous home filed advantage the Mountaineers have enjoyed. We want folks to be loud and intimidating, but think twice about what they are saying."

Both Luck and Roberts emphasized rule two, saying that contributed heavily to the overall decline in the fan experience.

"We want everyone to remember that there are mothers and daughters and aunts and uncles and kids sitting throughout the stands," Luck said.

Roberts was more blunt.

"If you wouldn't say it to your grandmother, don't say it here."

West Virginia's reputation as something of a snakepit for visiting fans has spread across the nation in recent years, and Luck hopes the new initiative will help in that regard. While he doesn't want a silent crowd, he does want visitors to feel comfortable.

"We want to encourage people to be hospitable to visiting fans, whether it's on Sept. 4 or LSU or our conference opponents," he said. "We don't want to lose any of the raucous, home-field advantage that we have because this is a hard place to play. At the same time, we've got opposing fans who travel to WVU, and we want them to leave Morgantown with a good impression of the University, the city, the state and of our fan base. We also want our fans – from kids to grandparents – to enjoy the game."

Details on enforcement policies weren't presented, but WVU is increasing the number of security personnel at each game. Courtesy patrols will walk through tailgating areas, and University Police officers will continue to patrol the tailgating areas. Offenders of these rules will be handed a small card with the rules. These cards will also be handed out at several events throughout the year including Fan Fest on Sept. 2 and other events prior to the team's season opener against Marshall on Sept. 4.

"Violators," Roberts said plainly, "are probably going to miss the game."

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