The SEC is looking into how it can both reduce and subdue instances where fans storm fields and/or courts. This announcement comes after controversy surrounding Alabama, the conference’s most dominant team in the modern era.
While there are few things more fun than hopping the fence and rushing out toward the 50-yard-line, it can get dangerous. For the fans, for the players and for the coaches.
Thousands of fans are moving at full speed — without much awareness and perhaps even a comfortable buzz. Meanwhile, players and coaches from the losing team are trying to make their way off of the field in the opposite direction.
Chaotic field-storming scenes can cause accidental collisions and incidental violence. They can also lead to intentional physical and/or verbal altercations, as was the case earlier this season.
There have been multiple field storms in the SEC already this season.
As the Crimson Tide made their way off of the Tennessee field following the loss to the Volunteers, video showed wide receiver Jermaine Burton make contact with a female fan on his way into the locker room. Additional video, which shows the entire incident from start to finish, shows that he made contact with multiple Tennessee fans.
In response to the postgame violence from Burton, Nick Saban said that he and his players were “scared.” He didn’t say that Burton hit any of the fans because he was scared of them specifically. He did say that Burton was scared and later doubled down.
Saban also commented on the SEC’s efforts to prevent such situations.
“The league has tried to control people from rushing the field,” he said. “It’s a difficult circumstance for the league, difficult circumstances for the people on the field.”
The SEC is looking into field storming policies.
Although the conference is not saying that this is in direct response to the Burton situation earlier this year, the SEC is reevaluating its field-storming policies. It has formed a group to try to prevent field/court storming and increase the safety of players and fans in those situations.
Here is what the Southeastern Conference said in a press release:
As things currently stand, teams are fined as follows:
- $50,000 for a first field-storming offense
- $100,000 for a second field-storming offense
- $250,000 for each subsequent field-storming offense
Clearly, the fines are not doing much. Fans are still storming the field.
It may not seem like there is a way to stop field storming, but the SEC is considering options. According to sources, increasing fines is one possible solution. Others include increased police presence.
It is all still in the elementary stages. The ‘SEC Event Security Working Group’ plans to have new recommendations by the conference’s spring meetings.