"Tradition is never a good reason to continue doing something that shouldn’t be done, and court-storming is something that shouldn’t be done. Beyond the fact that students have been injured during such celebrations, it seems undeniable that eventually we’re going to have an ugly scene that’ll lead to a black eye for the sport." CBS Sports Writer Gary Parrish wrote in an article on Wednesday.
Gary might want to go buy a lottery ticket.
Thursday night The New Mexico State Aggies visited the Utah Valley Wolverines to essentially crown the WAC Champion.
The Aggies fell short in overtime, and as the buzzer sounded New Mexico State guard K.C. Ross-Miller let his frustrations get the better of him.
With time running out, K.C. picks up the ball and appears to wind up for a last second desperation heave towards the basket. Unfortunately, K.C had a different target in mind. A much closer target. Utah Valley's Holton Hunsaker.
Hunsaker was able to deflect the attack, and the New Mexico State coaches were quick to respond. They immediately corralled Ross-Miller, and appear to deal with the situation in the way you would hope and expect, but the spark was lit.
Students that rushed onto the court to celebrate had suddenly become an enraged mob. They swarmed the New Mexico State players still on the court, and the free-for-all was on.
"I think when their fans stormed the court, I think it kind of ... convoluted things a little bit because some of the guys apparently said they felt threatened," New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies told ESPN. "Daniel said he actually got hit."
Just like that, a hard fought, champion-deciding, overtime thriller was dwarfed by the ugly actions of a few.
The simple truth is Thursday's brawl happened because of the fans. Ross-Miller's actions were unacceptable and he's rightfully been suspended, but it wasn't until the fans rushed in and took matters into their own hands that things got out of control.
This comes on the heels of the altercation between Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart and Texas Tech super fan Jeff Orr. That incident prompted the NCAA to make a rule change effective immediately. From now on if a player leaves the court to engage or confront a fan that player will receive a flagrant 2, ejecting them from the game.
But what about when the fans come onto the court and engage the players? What is a player or coach to do if a fan comes at them?
"Look, do you know how close you are to -- just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches," Coach K. told the Raleigh News & Observer last year after a loss at Virginia. "I'm not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, 'Coach, you're a [expletive],' or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection."
One conference has already taken steps to put an end to the tradition. Schools in the SEC are fined if they allow their fans onto the court immediately following a game.
It's time the NCAA does the same.