UM pre-game tradition at end?

Responding to incident Saturday at Cole, Yow may ban newspaper toss

College Basketball

January 31, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - In reaction to an incident after Saturday's Maryland-Duke men's basketball game at Cole Field House, where the mother of Blue Devils center Carlos Boozer suffered minor injuries after being struck in the head by a thrown bottle of water, Maryland wants to end a pre-game tradition of students throwing balled-up newspapers on the court.

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow said her department is deciding on a number of crowd-control initiatives that will be in place for Sunday's home game against Clemson.

Among the measures being considered is the banning of the newspaper toss, a Cole Field House staple. Members of the school's student section, who sit behind and to the right of the visiting bench, mock the visiting team by holding up newspapers while their players are introduced. After players are introduced, students roll newspaper pages into balls and throw them at the team.

Upon the completion of Maryland's emotional 98-96 overtime loss to Duke, Terps fans vented their frustration by throwing coins, ice, plastic cups and water bottles toward the Duke bench, behind which were seated numerous family members of the Blue Devils.

Besides Renee Boozer, who was examined before leaving Cole Field House after the game, the mothers of Duke point guard Jason Williams and guard Chris Duhon were hit by debris.

University of Maryland president C. D. Mote Jr. issued a statement of apology to Duke. The Duke game has been a magnet for such incidents in recent years.

"I wish I could say the behavior was isolated. It was not," said Yow, who said she has viewed a post-game videotape that reveals about 100 students throwing debris toward the Duke bench for about 50 seconds.

"It was an embarrassment to all who value civility and love this great institution. This behavior cannot and will not be tolerated."

Terps coach Gary Williams and Yow wrote open letters set to appear in today's edition of the Diamondback, the campus newspaper.

In addition to the throwing of any objects, Yow and Williams criticized crowd chants and the wearing of shirts with obscene Duke references. Yow also hinted that the university might stop the school band from playing "Rock and Roll (Part Two)," which always includes the student section directing jeers toward the visiting team.

"I'm an alumnus, and I'm very embarrassed. I don't understand why our fans think they can throw anything on the court, when it's not done anywhere else in the country," said Williams, who supports a "zero-tolerance" approach to ending the tradition.

Yow said the school has discovered ice and batteries wrapped in some of the newspapers on the court.

"That was done in the '70s. It was stopped everywhere else in the country. Here we are in 2001 throwing rolled-up newspapers on the court. How ridiculous is that?" Williams said. "It's hard to stop, and we have to find a way to stop it. We've worked too hard to bring this basketball program up from an embarrassing situation. I don't need idiots throwing stuff on the court, to take something away from what we've tried to do here."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he has refused to bring his family to Cole Field House for a number of years, largely because of the abuse his team and fans have endured.

"The worst thing you can do is throw objects," he said. "Personally, I don't think [throwing newspapers] is a very good idea. You condone throwing something. Something can take the place of paper. Something did."

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