OREM, Utah — The post-game brawl between Utah Valley University and New Mexico State has been the talk of the day.
Players and fans who rushed the court escalated the situation that continues to be under review, and several players have been suspended.
A look at the last moments of the game show a combination of poor sportsmanship, fans rushing the court, and a fight erupting – all in a matter of seconds. Jason Carling saw it all go down.
“Everybody just bunched up there, and we could see the coaches and staff pulling the players and fans just off to the side,” he said.
Katie and Kyle Borne are students who were at the game and among those to rush the court.
“The moment that buzzer sounded off we ran into the court and celebrated with our players and it wasn’t until I saw our coach on the ground that I realized it turned into an altercation” Katie Borne said.
Rushing the court or field isn’t something new. It happened during the rivalry game between University of Utah and Brigham Young University in 2012, and a search shows something similar at a Utah State basketball game and a BYU basketball game.
FOX 13 News spoke with Utah State University about the issue. Athletics officials said no school likes when this happens, but they prepare as best they can, especially when they know it’s a high stakes game.
Jana Doggett, Executive Associate Director of Athletics for External, said: “We set ourselves up to make sure that we may not be able to stop the crowd from coming on to the field, but we can protect our team, the visiting team, and the officials.”
UVU students like the Bornes said rushing the court isn’t done with malicious intent, but is instead a way of celebrating.
“Mostly just to be involved and to tell the players and everybody involved, ‘Hey we’re proud of you’ and it’s something we all want to be a part of,” Kyle Borne said. “It’s just part of the college pageantry.”
FOX 13 News received a statement from the Western Athletic Conference Commissioner that states:
“While the suspensions handed down are appropriate for the actions of the involved student-athletes, there will be a continued review of other incidents that occurred as a result of fans rushing the court. There are obvious safety and security issues that need to be addressed, and I also have requested additional games management information from Utah Valley University.”