The Louisville Cardinals weren’t the only ones to get beat up last Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.
Following the game, approximately 30-40 USF fans attempted to rush the field to celebrate the most significant victory in the history of the program, a 45-14 win over Louisville. It was the team’s first win over a Top-10 opponent.
What happened next turned a sweet moment very sour.
At least two members of The Oracle’s staff witnessed excessive force used by the Tampa Sports Authority, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies and Tampa Police to apprehend fans who rushed the field. Not only was the manner in which the fans tackled and dragged overly harsh, but in at least one instance, security personnel used a Taser to subdue a fan.
We understand that security personnel were ordered to keep fans off the field, but we believe that utilizing a Taser to do so is ridiculous and disturbing.
According to The Tampa Tribune, rushing the field has been prohibited at Raymond James for two years. We are not arguing that rushing the field should be allowed. However, the brutal way in which the rule was enforced put a black eye on a historic night for USF.
Also, the Tribune reported that fans were warned that they would be arrested if they ran toward the goalposts. In the future, explanations of the rules should be completely unambiguous to prevent any misunderstanding.
Officials from both USF and TSA are planning a meeting next week in order to brainstorm alternatives to rushing the field, according to Associate Athletic Director Tom Veit.
He said he welcomes ideas from fans and students and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
USF’s next home game is not until Oct. 22 against West Virginia, in which, like all future home games, fans will not be permitted to rush the field, Veit said.
That may be disheartening to some USF fans, but at least they can be assured that what happened on Saturday shouldn’t happen again.