27 arrested near University of Md. in post-game confrontation

March 04, 2010|By Don Markus | don.markus@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK — The wild celebration that began immediately after Maryland's 79-72 victory over No. 4 Duke late Wednesday night started with players being carried on the shoulders of other students and ended early Thursday morning in a not-so-joyful setting.

The first win over the Blue Devils in more than three years triggered another Maryland tradition: students pouring into and out of the campus bars along U.S. 1 and confronting police and one another. According to Prince George's County police, 27 arrests were made, including several students, among more than 1,500 students who congregated there.

"We believe that at least 13 of them were identified as current students," said John Zacker, director of student conduct for the university.

A couple of minor injuries were reported, police said.

Zacker said that the post-game celebration on the edge of the campus put a damper on what the Terps accomplished on the court.

"In my eyes it certainly does," said Zacker, who holds a graduate degree from the university and has worked on the campus for more than 20 years. "It mars the game. It's embarrassing."

John Brown, a Maryland graduate and former president of the Terrapin Club, agrees.

"We really need to start to act like we belong there," said Brown, whose R.J. Bentley's restaurant is a popular post-game hangout for Maryland fans.

Brown said that the celebration that took place inside his establishment "was happy, absolutely thrilling. It was a mix of college kids hugging old people like me. They were all celebrating together. We should just all be happy about what this team has accomplished. Enjoy it, but the rioting part and the [expletive] part is really pretty boring."

Brown said that the celebration that followed on U.S. 1 was a bit tamer than in the past.While the victory helped the Terps forge a first-place tie in the Atlantic Coast Conference with the Blue Devils -- each team is now 12-3 with its final regular-season game being played Saturday -- the aftermath left campus officials contemplating what needs to be done in the event of more big wins at next week's ACC tournament and in the coming NCAA tournament. None of those games is scheduled at College Park.

Zacker said that conduct codes were amended after similar confrontations with police during the 2004-2005 season to include off-campus incidents after university-sponsored events.

The new guidelines include "rioting, assault, theft, vandalism, fire-setting or other serious misconduct," Zacker said. "Such events that occurred [Wednesday] night on Route 1 might be actionable under university rules."

Zacker said that he had yet to see the police reports, but "generally the behavior is categorized as disorderly conduct. ... Most of it is failure to reply to police directions."

Most of the students will be away on break when Maryland plays in next week's ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C., but would be back on campus when the NCAA tournament begins.

What can be done to prevent this from occurring again?

"Therein lies the question," Zacker said. "Unfortunately around the country, not only in college athletics but in other athletics, there is more frequently this kind of celebration that goes on after a victory -- Super Bowl victories, World Series games, college athletics is no different unfortunately. We struggle to create opportunities for students to celebrate in productive and constructive manners."

Zacker said that fans were allowed to swarm the floor after Wednesday night's game and remained there -- celebrating with the Maryland players -- for some time. A number of players, including sophomore guard Sean Mosley, were carried on the shoulders of fellow students.

"There's a psychology of fans, it's hard to estimate whether they will [hold a wild celebration downtown] on a night like [Wednesday] night, this was a regular-season game, it didn't have the great consequence that a Final Four game would have or a tournament game."

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