From The Desk Of Terry Holland
Sept. 12, 2008
The Conference USA announcement should encourage us all to end a debate that is only dividing the Pirate Nation. It really does not matter what any of us think about whether or not fans should storm the field or court after a great win because the NCAA and the major conferences have already made the decision that these situations are not good for the long term health of intercollegiate athletics.
The current King of the Hill among major conferences (the SEC, winners of the last two and three of the last five BCS Championship games) began financial penalties several years ago and the NCAA has already notified the institutions in The Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) that if their fans leave the stands to go to the field postgame, those institutions will lose the opportunity to host subsequent playoff games.
This is my 48th year in intercollegiate athletic and I have been fortunate to witness or participate in practically every major intercollegiate athletic event in the country. In all those years, I have never seen a bond between the fans in the stands and the players/coaches on the field like the one that I saw when the Pirate Nation and the Pirates on the field became one team against West Virginia. There is no doubt that the major factor in our success to date is the spirit and inspiration provided by the Pirate Nation for our team.
We want the Pirate Nation to have the best opportunity to celebrate with our team and we are open to suggestions that recognize safety and sportsmanship concerns. Our players and coaches have established their own tradition of "storming the stands" and singing the fight song with the student body. That seems a classy and unique method of celebrating that allows the most fans to stay and feel part of the celebration. However, if there is some better manner to celebrate, there is every reason to try it.
However, the major immediate need is for us to regain our focus on the important games on the horizon so that we can have something to celebrate.