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Dissecting the Great Court-Storming Debate. What’s Next?

  • Court-storming has been front and center after Wake Forest fans injured a Duke player.
  • Some conferences fine schools, while others have softer punishments.
Cory Knowlton-USA TODAY Sports

With just a few weeks to go until March Madness engulfs sports fans, the court-storming debate has taken over the discord after Duke star Kyle Filipowski was injured when Wake Forest fans rushed the hardwood Saturday to celebrate the Demon Deacons’ 83–79 win. 

What can schools do to prevent raucous college kids from celebrating big wins in often-compact arenas not equipped with enough security? Monetary fines and other punishments vary from conference to conference, but they haven’t seemed to make much of a difference. Recent fines for court and field stormings in men’s basketball and football include:

  • $100,000: LSU basketball (beat Kentucky on Feb. 21)
  • $100,000: South Carolina basketball (beat Kentucky on Jan. 23)
  • $5,000: Santa Clara basketball (beat Gonzaga on Jan. 11)
  • $25,000: UCF basketball (beat Kansas on Jan. 10)
  • $100,000: Ole Miss football (beat LSU on Sept. 30, 2023)
  • $100,000: Missouri football (beat Kansas State on Sept. 16, 2023)
  • $250,000: LSU football (beat Alabama on Nov. 5, 2022)
  • $250,000: LSU football (beat Ole Miss on Oct. 22, 2022)
  • $100,000: Tennessee football (beat Alabama on Oct. 15, 2022)

But in the two most recent instances of court-stormers putting star players at notable risk, no fines were given out. The ACC doesn’t have a policy for court-storming fines, so Wake Forest was let off the hook. In a separate incident, Ohio State wasn’t penalized when a fan bumped into Caitlin Clark while rushing the court after the Buckeyes’ women’s basketball team beat Iowa last month, because the Big Ten doesn’t fine until a third offense.

Reactions to the Wake Forest–Duke situation have ranged from ESPN analyst Jay Bilas suggesting court-stormers be arrested to Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne saying home teams should have to forfeit the game. Whether any more incidents happen over the next few weeks, policy changes will no doubt be a major discussion point this offseason.

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