Righting wrongs at Raymond James

As USF prepares for Homecoming and its next Big East home game against West Virginia on Oct. 22, I wanted to take a moment to provide an update about some of the steps we have taken since our last home game against Louisville.

As many of you witnessed firsthand immediately following the Louisville game, there were several unfortunate incidents involving spectators who went onto the field and security officials who were trying to keep them off the field.

We recognize we have the obligation to protect the safety of our students, as well as the student-athletes on the field. There are many examples nationally where celebrations that began with the best intentions ended with tragic results, and we do not want that to happen at USF.

Additionally, as guests of Raymond James Stadium, we also must respect the policy of not permitting spectators on the playing field. This is the standard policy for collegiate and professional sporting events nationwide.

The incidents following the Louisville game were disconcerting, and we have been working behind the scenes to ensure this kind of scenario does not happen again.

We have been in discussions with law enforcement, hired security, Raymond James management and our Athletic Department. We asked Raymond James to review and re-address their security policies. Raymond James and law enforcement agreed to investigate any formal complaints and take appropriate action. They also assured us that the safety and protection of those in attendance is of utmost importance, and they are committed to using the least amount of force necessary in arrest situations.

Additionally, there was miscommunication at the game about whether spectators were allowed on the field. In light of this, USF will use posters, flyers and public announcements to ensure that spectators at upcoming games know they cannot go onto the field.

At the same time, we want USF fans – and especially our students – to have the opportunity to celebrate our big wins. I am pleased to announce that our football team will be starting a new tradition. After wins, they will circle around to the student section to give students the opportunity to congratulate them.

We are proud of the Bulls, and we expect a lot of big wins, as well as big – and safe – postgame celebrations. With greater awareness of the policies and heightened sensitivity by all parties, I am confident we will not see a repeat of what occurred after the Louisville game. I hope you enjoy the West Virginia game, and I look forward to seeing you during our many Homecoming festivities.