Vandy fined $100,000 for storming court after Kentucky game
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Vanderbilt's poor crowd control has resulted in a $100,000 fine, and athletic director David Williams knows the Commodores need to do a better job after fans stormed the court following a 74-62 upset of Kentucky.
''We didn't take care of our business,'' Williams said Monday, ''and rightfully the SEC did what they should do.''
What the Southeastern Conference did Monday was levy the hefty fine on the school.
Fines start at $50,000 for a first offense and go up to $100,000 for a second offense and up to $250,000 for subsequent offenses after being increased at the SEC spring meetings last year.
''Unfortunately, I'm going to be one that pays one of the penalties,'' Williams said.
Vanderbilt was fined $100,000 because it was the school's second offense. Vanderbilt fans also stormed the court after a men's basketball victory over No. 1 Florida in 2007, and the Commodores aren't the first. Auburn was fined $100,000 in January also after a win over Kentucky.
Williams, who voted for both the original policy and the increased penalties, said he and other Vanderbilt officials need to do a better job explaining why supporters need to celebrate differently.
''This is a safety issue,'' Williams said. ''I don't want anybody hurt. I want people to have a good time. People had a good time Saturday, and you ruin that when somebody goes out and gets hurt. If someone gets hurt, all that good stuff that happened is gone.
''We just need to do a better job. I need to do a better job. My department needs to do a better job.''
The SEC policy that originally took effect in 2004 states ''access to competition areas shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals at all times.'' The policy adds that, ''It is the responsibility of each member institution to implement procedures to ensure compliance with this policy.''
''While understanding the enthusiasm following an exciting victory, fans need to remain in the stands and avoid the safety concerns associated with rushing on to the playing floor,'' SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. ''We want to have exciting experiences around SEC games, but also want to maintain a safe environment for student-athletes, coaches, spectators and officials.''
Kentucky coach John Calipari sent his players who were the bench to the locker room with about 35 seconds left in the game against Vanderbilt. He said afterward he did that to keep his players safe, expecting fans to rush the court to celebrate.
The Big East commissioner can fine schools with a first offense starting at $5,000 with a second up to $25,000. But neither the Big Ten nor the Pac-12 have penalties in place for fans storming the court.
Arizona coach Sean Miller is not happy with the Pac-12.
Opposing fans have rushed the court in 10 of Arizona's last 11 conference road losses, including Feb. 24 after a loss at Colorado. Miller, who suggested last season that schools be fined $100,000, was very upset after the loss at Colorado watching his players struggle to get through the crowd.
''Eventually what's going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: An Arizona player is going to punch a fan. And they're going to punch the fan out of self-defense,'' Miller said.
Earlier this season, Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register broke his leg after being knocked over when fans rushed the court in Ames following Iowa State's 83-82 home win over rival Iowa
Kansas coach Bill Self was pinned against a table last season after a loss against Kansas State, leading to the stricter guidelines. In a measure passed last May, the Big 12 can now fine member schools or take away a future home game for failing to keep fans rushing the court or field.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee, Eric Olson and Dave Skretta contributed to this report.