Arizona’s Miller on how to stop court storming: $100K fine

TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona coach Sean Miller has a solution to stop college basketball crowds from court storming after the home team pulls off a big upset.

Fine the host school $100,000.

"If you punish a program $100,000 for court storming, I bet you (Kansas coach) Bill Self wouldn’t have been jammed into the scores table," Miller said Tuesday afternoon, referring to Monday night’s dangerous aftermath of Kansas State’s upset victory over Kansas.

Self had to be assisted by Kansas State coach Bruce Weber to get out of the sea of KSU students celebrating the Wildcats’ victory. Self later said some of his players had been hit during the celebration.

As coach of one of the nation’s top programs, Miller has witnessed plenty of court stormings since arriving at Arizona. Almost any time the Wildcats lose, it’s a monumental win for the opponent. One of the worst came two years ago, junior Brandon Ashley said, when Arizona lost at Colorado, 71-58 — the ‘Cats visit the Buffaloes Thursday in Boulder, Colo.

"We were on the far side and had to walk all the way across the court through the crowd to get to the locker room," Ashley said.

Arizona’s last six consecutive road losses have resulted in a storming of the court.

There have been no significant consequences, but one never knows what could happen in the future.

"To me it’s unnecessary," Miller said. "There’s really only one thing that could happen — and that’s bad. I can name a lot of bad."

Arizona State fans celebrate on the court at Wells Fargo Arena after the Sun Devils upset Arizona on Feb 7.

Miller, in using an example, said if a punch was thrown, "it would be the players and coaches" who would "pay the dearest penalty," not the fans.

"I don’t look at as being necessary, but maybe that’s because I’m not going to watch people storm the court at McKale," Miller said.

But it’s not unheard of at McKale Center, either. In 2002, Arizona fans stormed the court after going on a 27-2 second-half run to beat ninth-ranked UCLA. It came three years after then-senior Jason Terry hit a last-second shot to beat No. 3 Stanford 79-78.

Before that, Arizona hadn’t had a court storming at McKale Center since 1986.

On the road, however, it’s a common occurrence.

"One thing I know players hate is when the students try to put their phone in their face (to shoot pictures)," Arizona sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said. "That’s kind of disrespectful. I could see where someone could get upset and smack the phone out of someone’s hand."

In Arizona’s most recent loss to Arizona State, ASU fans stormed the court and it took a few minutes for Arizona coaches and players to make it to their locker room, but they were protected by ASU’s security detail.


Miller said the priority is to protect the players.

"Some of the things that are said are offensive," Miller said of what he’s witnessed from such celebrations. "Your natural reaction is to punch them. You don’t want to do that, but it happens fast and there’s a ton of emotion. It has all of the makings of a disaster. And it’s up to you to show amazing restraint."

Miller said while exercising such restraint can be expected from a coach, it’s a lot more to ask of a young player who is experiencing it for the first time.

There are no NCAA rules against storming the court. The Southeastern Conference assesses fines ranging from $5,000 for the first offense to $50,000 for continued incidents.

According to Dave Hirsch, vice president of communications for the Pac-12, the conference has no policy regarding court storming, but "it’s been a topic of discussion at past conference meetings. (An) agenda for future meetings has not been set."

Follow Steve Rivera on Twitter