Kansas Athletics isn’t responsible for all of the selfish and unruly behavior that reportedly occurred at Friday’s Late Night in the Phog, but anytime a Kansas University entity invites the public to an event, it has a responsibility to make sure that event is organized and safe for the people who attend.
To their credit, athletics officials readily admitted that Friday’s basketball celebration did not run as smoothly as they would like. “Clearly the procedures Kansas Athletics has used effectively for many years at Late Night did not work effectively Friday night,” said Associate Athletic Director Jim Marchiony in a prepared statement.
That seems a bit of an understatement. People waiting in line were dismayed when groups of individuals began cutting in front of them before the doors opened. When the doors did open, thousands of fans stormed the entrances creating a situation that was both unfair and potentially dangerous.
The stampede suggests several shortfalls for Friday’s event: a lack of organization for how people would be admitted, a lack of communication of how that process would work and a lack of adequate security personnel to enforce that process. Marchiony’s statement acknowledged those problems and said the department would be reviewing “all facets of the event.”
As Marchiony said, Late Night has been a popular event for fans, many of whom have trouble obtaining tickets for Jayhawk basketball games. Unfortunately, this year, thousands of fans, including many who waited in line, were turned away and probably left Allen Fieldhouse feeling disappointed both in being unable to see the team and in the way KU officials managed the event.
The athletic department seemed to be surprised by the way Friday’s event unfolded, but considering the attention directed at this year’s Kansas men’s basketball team, they should have expected a larger-than-normal crowd and made plans to deal with it. Presumably, they won’t make the same mistake again.
Having a team that draws such attention and fan support is a good problem to have, but it nonetheless is a problem officials must manage. Allen Fieldhouse only holds so many people. The goal of Late Night should be to provide access to fans who don’t often get to see the team play, but with an organized process that creates less disappointment and a safer experience for Jayhawk fans.