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Pattern of Abuse

March 03, 2008
March 03, 2008

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March 3, 2008

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Pattern of Abuse

Excessive harassment of opposing players isn't new to the college game. Fans have been committing offensive fouls for decades

TAUNTING, LIKEcooking, is more art than science. A dash of wit mixed with harmless intent isacceptable to the palate, but a dollop of torment tossed with cruelty isdistasteful. Here's a sampling of how overly active and mean-spirited collegebasketball fans have humiliated players and their families over the years.

This is an article from the March 3, 2008 issue

• During the1978--79 season Washington (N.C.) High sensation Dominique Wilkins was believedto be headed for North Carolina State, and Wolfpack fans envisioned Dr. Dunktaking them to an NCAA title as David Thompson had five seasons earlier. Onnational signing day in March '79, however, Wilkins slipped unnoticed intoGeorgia and accepted a scholarship from the Bulldogs, infuriating his homestate. (Comparisons with Thompson weren't that appealing to Dominique afterall.) Wilkins's mother, Gertrude Baker, said she returned home to find her carhad been vandalized and her home's windows had been shattered. Three monthslater, after claiming that a store had attempted to repossess the family'sliving room furniture and the housing authority had tried to evict her, Bakermoved to Georgia.

• Fifteen monthsafter Maryland forward Herman Veal was accused of sexual misconduct towardanother Maryland student, Duke's Cameron Crazies wouldn't let him forgetit—even though formal charges were never filed against him. In a January 1984game between the Terps and Blue Devils, Duke fans greeted Veal by throwingpanties and condoms into the air when he was introduced, then yelledobscenities throughout the game. Duke president Terry Sanford and coach MikeKrzyzewski appealed to students to behave with more class. The next game,against UNC, Duke students hoisted signs reading, WELCOME, HONORED GUESTS.

• In February1988, Arizona senior guard Steve Kerr was cruelly reminded of the murder of hisfather—Malcolm H. Kerr, the president of the American University of Beirut—byterrorists in Lebanon four years earlier. In a game against archrival ArizonaState, in Tempe, Kerr was taunted by Sun Devils fans, who yelled "PLO,PLO." (The Palestine Liberation Organization was never linked to theassassination.) Kerr responded by scoring 20 of his 22 points in the first halfas Arizona rolled to a 101--73 win. Arizona State later apologized, and ananonymous Sun Devils fan attempted to do the same, explaining in a letter sentto Kerr, "There's no way you can understand ... some of the things we havehad to put up with when we've gone to Arizona over the years."

• Before playingat Wisconsin in February 1998, Michigan State guard Mateen Cleaves was arrestedfor underage possession of alcohol (a misdemeanor for which he completed afirst-offenders program). After the Grateful Red student section serenadedCleaves with 99 Bottles of Beer, Spartans coach Tom Izzo had to restrainCleaves. "I had to drag him off the floor because he wanted to fight thewhole place," Izzo says. "Then again, maybe he had some of itcoming."

• When Oregonvisited Arizona in February 2006, several months had passed since Ducks coachErnie Kent had denied rumors that he had had an extramarital affair. Yetwhenever Kent's son Jordan, a guard on the Oregon team, went to the free throwline, the Zona Zoo fan section chanted, "Who's your mistress?"

PHOTOMALCOLM EMMONS/US PRESSWIRE (WILKINS)HUMAN TARGETS Wilkins (top) and Kerr endured fans' wrath.PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH (KERR)[See caption above]