As West Virginia University gets set to launch its 2005 football season this weekend, University and Morgantown police officers will continue what they started early this semesterstepped-up law enforcement when it comes to underage drinking, illegal burnings and other unlawful acts.
We want to send a clear message to not only our students but to all Mountaineer fans that this type of behavior will not be tolerated,said Chief of Campus Police Bob Roberts.
WVU and Morgantown law enforcement are jointly cracking down on campus and city violators. Individuals are being held accountable for their actions,he said.
He reminded fans that 11 students were expelled and many others received a range of disciplinary sanctions last spring during post-game celebrations following the WVU basketball teams march to the Elite 8.
Since that time, campus and local police have stepped up enforcement efforts in the hope of creating a safer and more positive environment for Mountaineer fans before, during and following athletic eventswhether home or away.
Our student fans last season, for the most part, were great,Roberts said.They were very spirited and loud, but not disruptive. Theyve become the 12 th man. The players love them and often come to the student end of the field to celebrate and sing �€~Country Roadswhen the game is over. We want to see that type of positive enthusiasm continueincluding after the game as well.
Class, pride, sportsmanship and safety are words WVU and Morgantown officials will continue to stress this season as the Mountaineers prepare for Sundays game at Syracuse and the Sept. 10 home opener with Wofford, said Vice President for Student Affairs Ken Gray.
We want to ensure that all fansyoung and old alikecan come to the game and enjoy it without incident,Gray said.
And while alcohol-related incidents and reports of disorderly conduct were down last year from 2003 figures, Roberts noted,It still only takes the actions of a few irresponsible fans to harm the schools reputation or to ruin the day for other fans.
Patrols inside and outside the stadiumparticularly in areas where complaints have been the heaviesthave been increased in recent years, Roberts said, adding that a steady security presence has been maintained throughout the stands.
Police and security are on hand for pre- and post-game activities as well, he added, where celebrations take place in stadium tailgating areas and other parts of the city.
Our main goal is to provide a fun, safe and secure atmosphere for all fans, so we will be keeping a watchful eyealong with local and state policeon any dangerous or illegal activity,Roberts said.And, I want to make it clear that this message is not just geared toward studentsbut all fans. Sometimes, they are the ones singled out unfairly.
Individuals observed engaging in dangerous or disruptive activity will be subject to immediate removal from the stadium and possible criminal charges. Unacceptable activities include throwing objects in the stadium or onto the playing field; entering the playing field; using obscene language; or possessing alcohol.
Additionally, WVU students will be referred to the Universitys Office of Judicial Affairs for sanctions ranging from community service and counseling to expulsion. Students will also lose their athletic privileges.
We feel its important to remind fans, including our students, to cheer enthusiastically and proudly, but to be respectful and courteous of those around you and uphold high standards of sportsmanship before, during and after the games,Gray said.
We also want to provide a family-friendly atmosphere and a respectful environment for visiting fans and teams,he added.And, just as important, we want the focus to shine squarely on the team and playing fieldnot any inappropriate actions by our fans.
Its clear that WVU and the City of Morgantown want sporting events in our hometown to be fun, safe and enjoyable for everyone,Gray added.
WVU will host a FanFest pep rally at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, in front of the Mountainlair to kick off what should bean exciting and enjoyable season,Gray said.