Alabama AD Greg Byrne is the latest figure to weigh in on the hottest topic in college sports, court storming, with a bold suggestion.

Safety concerns with fans storming the playing field are nothing new. The conversation was brought to the forefront when Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark collided with an Ohio State fan after the Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes.

Now, the Kyle Filipowski incident at Wake Forest has the college sports world talking. Jay Bilas was widely criticized for suggesting that fans who storm the court should be cited or arrested.

Greg Byrne supports another drastic measure. The Alabama AD said storming the court should result in a forfeit.

“You have two kids run out there, no, but when you have a sustained rush like what just happened the other day at Wake, you lose the game,” Byrne said at the Birmingham Tip Off Club, per’s Matt Stahl. “That will get people to stop.”

For Byrne, it’s not about being the fun police. He recalled instances in which Alabama staffers have been hurt in postgame commotion.

“We had a student manager we thought was gonna lose an eye after a field storm in the last few years,” Byrne said Monday, per Stahl. “He ended up being concussed and the doctors were able to save his eye. We had a doctor, a female doctor, get pushed down and bruised up pretty bad. And something needs to be done about it.”

Byrne makes an important point about why the current SEC approach doesn’t work

The SEC issues fines for rushing the court/field of play. LSU, for example, was hit with a $100,000 fine after fans stormed the court to celebrate a home win over Kentucky that came on a buzzer beater. Byrne says fines don’t keep fans from rushing the playing field.

“Kids aren’t going to be in the stands saying ‘Oh, I don’t want to do this because the school is gonna get fined $200,000,’” Byrne said Monday. “That doesn’t enter their mindset. But if they knew the game that they just had been a part of, celebrated a great win that led to that, if they knew that they were going to lose that game immediately, that would stop them.”

Byrne makes a strong point about the fine not affecting the fans personally, especially students. Even if an older fan is a booster who donates to the school, $200,000 is not a significant hit to an SEC athletic department.

It’s not just fans, though, who don’t mind the fines. When Arkansas beat Texas in the 2021 football season, Razorback AD Hunter Yurachek said the fine for the storming the field was “worth it.”

“If you saw the stands, they started to come down from the top with about two minutes to go,” Yurachek said. “There was not a law enforcement official that I would have wanted to put in front of those students to try to stop them. That was not going to create a good scene for us.

“I’ll take the $100,000 — and again, not being flippant about $100,000 because it’s a significant amount of money — but it was worth it.”

Wins that have fans leave their seats often lead to a better feeling about the state of the program, which can help generate more donations. On football Saturdays, there’s also the recruiting aspect, as experiencing a special moment can stick with an undecided prospect.

Extreme measures seem unlikely to gain traction

Fans want to leave their seats and be with the team after big, unexpected wins. Those moments make for iconic TV images. (Bilas said the media deserves some blame for glorifying court-storming.)

There are real safety issues, as everyone saw with Caitlin Clark and Kyle Filipowski. As Byrne pointed out, it’s not just about the players but also other members of the team being put at risk.

Like Bilas’ proposed solution, Byrne’s forfeit suggestion feels overboard. While he’s right that fans would not want to cost the team, wiping out a team’s hard-earned win because of the actions of fans would not go over well in college sports. It also opens the door for rival fans potentially faking a home court storming.

One hopes that reasonable, sensible solutions can be agreed upon to allow celebrations without putting athletes and team staffers in harm’s way. Plenty of college sports administrators are paid handsomely to figure out the tough issues, but they’ll need more than 24 hours.

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