After growing concerns over the environment surrounding intercollegiate football and basketball games during the 2002-03 athletic seasons, the Big Ten Conference recently passed a set of initiatives to address fan behavior and improve security for visiting teams and game officials.
Crowd control became a nation-wide issue last season
following post-game incidents of fans rushing the playing fields, rioting and
other destructive behavior. The Big Ten Conference and others nationally were
involved in a Sportsmanship and Fan Behavior
Out of that summit, Conference leaders formulated the following initiatives which were presented to the Big Ten Council of Presidents / Chancellors and unanimously approved by the Conference's Administrators Council in June.
Big Ten Crowd Control and Protection of Visiting Teams / Officials:
- Protection of Visiting Team and Officials: Host institutions must provide adequate security and protection for the visiting team and game officials and their vehicles immediately upon arrival on campus / at the competition venue continuing through their departure.
- Home Team Student Sections / Bands: Institutions will be held responsible for school sponsored student sections that attack or single out student-athletes. In basketball venues, home team bands will be moved away from the visiting bench area.
- In-Game Video Replay Policy: Institutions shall refrain from showing replays on video boards where an officiating call could be considered a substantial part of the play. Also, all noise emanating from a video or message board must stop prior to game action.
- Implement Comprehensive Communications Plan: "Respect the game" -- The Conference office has developed a broad plan to communicate the message of sportsmanship to students, administrators, alumni and fans.
"The Big Ten Conference is taking a very serious step forward to monitor crowd control and fan behavior in and around our venues," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said. "Sporting events should be fun and enthusiastic environments for the participants and those in attendance. However in some cases, unruly behavior has over-shadowed the games and, at times, threatened the welfare of student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans.
"For more than 100 years, the Big Ten Conference has focused on fairness and sportsmanship and we want everyone involved with our competitions to uphold these values. Our message is simple, ‘Respect the game'," Delany added.
Along with these initiatives, Big Ten football and men's and women's basketball head coaches are participating in public service announcements for the Conference addressing this topic.