Court-storming not exactly discouraged following WVU’s win over No. 1 Kansas

photo by: Mike Yoder

A West Virginia cheerleader rides on top of a crowd of fans as the rush the court after defeating the Jayhawks 74-63 at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.V. Tuesday.

With the outcome long since decided and only the final margin yet to be determined, you could see the swell of West Virginia students preparing for the inevitable.

With a little more than 2 minutes remaining in Tuesday’s 74-63 beat-down of top-ranked Kansas, overjoyed Mountaineers fans readied for a court-storm.

It didn’t take a genius to see it was coming, and, if you think about it, it almost should be expected at this point. After all, West Virginia fans have stormed the floor after beating Kansas at home in each of the past three years and KU also has seen courts stormed by fans at Oklahoma State, Kansas State and TCU.

However, even with all of the talk this offseason about new rules to emphasize safety in these types of situations, not a thing was said about it. There was no announcement by the public address announcer encouraging fans to stay off the floor. Ushers did not position themselves in a way that might discourage the fans from storming the floor. In fact, the only evidence I saw of any preparation for the inevitable was a quartet of event staff members preparing to protect ESPN broadcasters Fran Fraschilla and Brent Musberger and KU coach Bill Self himself waving his players off the floor before time had even expired.

Note: KU’s bench was in the bottom left-hand corner of this video.

Now, don’t get me wrong. As far as court-stormings go, this one was pretty tame. That, as much as anything, might be the most damning aspect of KU’s ugly loss on Tuesday night.

Usually when teams knock off Kansas, the home fans are so beside themselves with joy that they don’t know how to handle it and often allow the emotion of the big, sometimes improbable, victory to turn them into lunatics. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Not only was there nothing improbable about WVU’s victory, but the fans almost seemed to storm the floor out of obligation rather than jubilation.

In fact, at one point, midway through the second half, Gary Bedore and I talked about how if ever there were a game that would prevent opposing fans from storming the court after an upset of Kansas, the thorough domination by the Mountaineers was it.

In the past 12 hours or so, I’ve had a lot of people inquire about why nothing was done about WVU’s court-storming following Tuesday’s victory.

And the answer is simple.

Although the Big 12 did address the practice with rule changes and new legislation this offseason — in large part thanks to the crazy scene at K-State during which Jamari Traylor was shoulder-checked by a KSU student — most of the enforcement of these new rules remains subjective.

In short, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby possesses the right to punish any program for unruly behavior by its fans but he is not obligated to do so. The punishment includes everything from a fine to loss of a future home game.

Now, nothing about West Virginia’s storming on Tuesday led me to believe anything serious is coming. Heck, they might even go unpunished. And I’d be completely fine with that.

Perhaps the WVU athletic department did more behind the scenes than I’m aware of to make this a cool, calm and collected moment rather than mass chaos. If so, bravo. I, in no way, am calling them out here.

I just thought it was interesting to note that upon the first opportunity for us to see court storming in the new era of Big 12 basketball, very little was done to prevent it.