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Schools seeking end to violence

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 28, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS -- A weekend of frightening scenes at college football games is forcing university presidents and the NCAA to try to find ways to stop violence on college campuses.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said he and school presidents from the conference will meet Sunday and discuss the issue.

Delany almost was caught in the middle of trouble last weekend. As he stood in the end zone near the end of Ohio State's 14-9 victory over Michigan, he was given the choice to stay or go. Fearful of what might happen, he left early.

The victory sent No. 2 Ohio State to the Fiesta Bowl, where it will play for its first national championship since 1968, but it also set off a raucous celebration in Columbus, Ohio, and riots in the streets.

Students rushed the field, tried unsuccessfully to tear down the goal posts, and hours later set about 30 fires.

Saturday's trouble brought the problem of fan violence "into bold reflection," Delany said.

There were other cases. Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges said she "feared for her life" when fans littered the field with glass bottles and plastic souvenirs following the Huskies' 29-26 triple overtime victory over rival Washington State in Pullman.

Also:

In Clemson, S.C., Tigers fans celebrated their 27-20 victory over South Carolina by tearing down the goal posts. One woman and a police officer were injured.

In Berkeley, Calif., the biggest skirmishes occurred between fans after California had beaten Stanford 30-7. Four arrests were made.

In Raleigh, N.C., 21 fans were arrested and three were injured in a melee following North Carolina State's 17-7 win over Florida State.

West Virginia is increasing security at Mountaineer Field, even though the team is playing 75 miles away on Saturday. And officials will be on the lookout for problems at other games, including Texas-Texas A&M, Miami-Syracuse and Hawaii-Alabama.

"This is the first time I've seen something like this, in a non-championship setting," said Richard Lapchick, a sports psychologist and chairman of Central Florida's sports business management program. "I think this explosion is to some degree a reflection of what's going on in our society."

The violence has led to renewed debates about policies, enforcement and security procedures. At the NCAA, officials are waiting to hear from universities before deciding how to respond.

"It's a concern," NCAA spokeswoman Natalie Sutkowski said. "I have heard on television that there is concern among our constituents and there very well may be something that happens."

Some people have suggested stiffer penalties for fans, such as expulsion or criminal charges, are the only way to change how they respond to victories and defeats.

"I think part of the problem is a mentality that has developed over the country that this type of behavior is acceptable," N.C. State police chief Tom Younce said.

NCAA rules require each school to provide security and hold games in an environment that promotes respect, fairness, civility and responsibility. But that clearly wasn't the case last weekend.

"It was a war zone, like a game of dodgeball, except it wasn't fun," Washington wide receiver Paul Arnold said. "We were ducking and diving, trying to get out of there."

HAWAII: Quarterback Timmy Chang, who injured his left knee and thumb in last week's win against Cincinnati, says he's ready to play against Alabama at home Saturday if coach June Jones lets him. Jones was optimistic that Chang could play, but said he had not made a final decision.

ITHACA: Philip "Jim" Butterfield, who won three national championships in his 27 years as coach, died at age 74. Mr. Butterfield died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, his family said.

MICHIGAN STATE: Fired coach Bobby Williams will receive $550,000 in a contract settlement. "For me, this is a fair settlement that permits us all, personally and professionally, to be future-oriented with confidence," Williams said in a statement released by the school. The settlement includes money Williams would have received through June 30, 2003, and a termination payment included in his contract, athletic director Ron Mason said.

MIAMI: Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork returned to practice on Wednesday and will probably play in Saturday's game against Syracuse, coach Larry Coker said. Wilfork, a 6-foot-2, 350-pound sophomore, missed Tuesday's practice after injuring his calf during Miami's 28-21 win over Pittsburgh last week. ... Jason Geathers is on the move again. Geathers switched from running back to receiver this week to give the Hurricanes more depth at wideout after Kevin Beard's season-ending knee injury. It was Geathers' second move in less than four months. The junior began his career as a receiver, then moved to running back in August after Frank Gore's knee injury and Jarrett Payton's back spasms.

TEXAS A&M: Brandon Fails died from a blood clot that formed as a result of a leg injury, the Travis County medical examiner's office ruled. "That's what the preliminary results show ... it was due to an injury to his right leg," said Sarah Williams, a spokeswoman with the medical examiner's office. A full autopsy report won't be released until sometime next week, Williams said. The 6-foot-1, 307-pound Fails hurt his right knee in practice and had knee surgery Oct. 22.

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