Jan. 30, 2001
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Following are letters to the Maryland campus community by university President Dr. C.D. Mote, Jr., athletic director Deborah A. Yow, and men's basketball coach Gary Williams:
FAN VIOLENCE SHAMES THE UNIVERSITY AND MUST STOP
By C.D. Mote, President
At the close of our basketball team's heartbreaking loss to Duke last Saturday night at the Cole Field House, students threw water bottles, cups and other debris in the direction of the Duke bench and onto the Duke fans and the parents of Duke players. Apparently these missiles struck, among others, the mothers of three Duke players, one requiring medical treatment.
On behalf of the University of Maryland, I offer my sincerest apologies to those Duke fans who were assaulted. I also apologize to those Maryland students, staff, faculty and alumni who are shamed and embarrassed by this brutish and violent behavior. No one can find this acceptable. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. When visitors cannot come to our athletic events without fear of assault, or actually experience assault, something is very wrong.
Fan behavior at basketball games has always reflected the deep passions surrounding our contests. And the passion surrounding the big games is understandably even more intense. We are proud of our team and the extraordinary effort and talent they bring to the court. They and their coaches deserve our support. I count myself among the team's most ardent fans. But what happened Saturday night took the great leap from boosterism to hooliganism that we cannot condone or tolerate. Besides the dangers it poses for visitors and Maryland fans alike, it demeans the entire university family of students, faculty, staff and alumni, and it undermines the efforts of so many to build this fine university into a great one.
University police are conducting a thorough investigation to identify the individuals involved in the assaults of last Saturday. Following the investigation, sanctions will be imposed according to university regulations and state laws as appropriate.
I also have asked the Athletic Director Debbie Yow to examine the operations at Cole Field House and propose whatever changes are needed to ensure safety. I expect the recommendations to go beyond ejecting disruptive fans from Cole, which we already do. We must take any and all actions necessary to protect safety on campus. I would also like to enlist the assistance of student leaders and student organizations across the campus in addressing safety at Cole.
Athletics is a very important part of the university experience. It brings the campus family together as it teaches teamwork, competition, leadership, commitment, strategy, goal setting and sportsmanship. And of course the ecstasy of victory and the agony of defeat are its lessons too. These lessons are as important in life as they are in athletics. They are negated, however, when fans sink to assault and violence at our games. I ask all members of the university community to join me in working to eradicate such behavior.
An Open Letter to the Maryland Campus Community
By Deborah A. Yow
Director of Athletics
The behavior of a number of Maryland students at the recent Duke game was an embarrassment to all who value civility and love this great institution. I wish I could say the behavior was isolated. It was not.
I have seen the post-game arena videotape, when the most egregious activity occurred. For approximately 50 seconds, debris was thrown toward the visiting team section in a calculated manner, designed to hit visitors sitting in the first two rows of Section Q, immediately behind the visiting team bench. All of this was preceded by in-game chants of F - - - Duke by a hundreds of students, many wearing F - - - Duke T-shirts. (All of this was seen and heard on national television).
The unsportsmanlike behavior escalated into activities that actually endangered the safety of people in attendance and injured a Duke fan who required medical assistance. This behavior cannot and will not be tolerated.
Over the last few years, we have dialogued with student leaders repeatedly. As a result, certain activities have been allowed in good faith at the request of our students. One example is the pre-game paper toss, which many deemed harmless. However, recently, individuals have begun to wrap ice or batteries in the paper wad before tossing it. So, even that activity is no longer acceptable.
A number of new initiatives of the Athletic Department will be in place, beginning with the Clemson game on Sunday, February 4th. Those initiatives will be shared with you via the Diamondback later this week. All are designed to best ensure that everyone attending our athletic contests will feel (and be) safe. This includes concern for our visitors, as well as Maryland patrons.
I offer my sincere thanks and recognition to the many students who have not participated in these types of unsportsmanlike and dangerous behaviors. Thank you for having the courage not to get caught up in such unacceptable behavior.
I plan to personally apologize to the Duke Athletic Director and to those who were hit by the plastic cups and plastic bottles that were thrown, some filled with water. As an institution, we must assume responsibility for the actions of our fans. Clearly, this is not time to say, "It happens everywhere". Our responsibility is to Maryland. Let us get back on track, fully supporting Coach Williams, his staff, and our team - - but in all of the right ways.
An Open Letter to the Maryland Campus Community
By Gary Williams
Men's Basketball Coach
Being the basketball coach at the University of Maryland since June 1989, I have always taken pride in stating that we have as good of a student cheering section as any school in the country.
As upset as I am about the outcome of our Duke game this past Saturday, I am more upset about the actions of some of our students before, during, and after the game.
As fans, there is nothing wrong with disliking another team and to vocalize that feeling in a non-obscene, non-threatening manner.
As fans we all want Cole to be considered one of the toughest home courts in the country. We can accomplish this without the following.
1. Nothing should be thrown on the court before, during, or after the game. Our tradition of throwing objects (whether it is newspapers or anything else) during the introduction of the visiting team must stop. No arena in the country allows that to happen. It antagonizes the referees before the game begins and hurts our team. That is a scene out of the 1970's.
2. The chant of F--- Duke must stop. There are young kids at the game, plus most adults find the cheer objectionable, plus it shows a lack of class.
3. No one felt worse than the players, fans and myself when we lost the game. However, there is no excuse for throwing water bottles, paper cups, etc., at the Duke player's parents and fans behind the bench. One of the player's mothers had to be treated in our training room after the game.
Please help our team in these areas. We will continue to work hard to be the best basketball team we can be. We need your support to make that happen. The negative things discussed earlier hurt our team. If you care about the success of our team you will help us make Cole Field house a better place to watch a game.
I have talked with our Athletic Director, Debbie Yow. We are united on these issues and believe the changes are needed.
We need our fans to be successful. Thank you for your support.