Student and administration leaders at West Virginia University issued a joint statement Thursday calling on fans to respond responsibly to the outcome of the University’s basketball games Saturday, and potentially Monday.
“We urge all of you to positively represent WVU and its basketball program with sportsmanship and class,” said the statement signed by Student Affairs Vice President Ken Gray and Student Government Association President Chris Lewallen.
WVU’s basketball team is in the NCAA Final Four for the first time in 51 years, playing Duke University in Saturday evening’s national semifinals. If victorious, the team will play for the national championship Monday evening.
“These outstanding young men and coaches deserve our utmost support and respect as they march toward that special goal they set out to achieve at the beginning of the season,” said the statement, which was distributed through multiple University channels.
While most behave responsibly, they said, “it only takes a few disorderly fans to overshadow the attention our team and Coach Bob Huggins so richly deserve.”
University, local and state law enforcement and emergency preparedness officials will be on hand in increased numbers, both visibly and undercover, to monitor behavior Saturday and, if the team is successful, also on Monday.
In addition to any legal penalties for unlawful acts, students will also be subject to WVU disciplinary action, which can include fines and up to expulsion from the University. Several expulsion cases are pending from celebrations following the team’s Big East Championship earlier this month.
Although students are on break through Sunday, University officials expect many will return to campus in time for Saturday’s game. While no special events are planned for Saturday, should the Mountaineers make it to the championship game on Monday, the Mountainlair Student Union will host a watch party from 6 p.m. until the game concludes. Watch for more details on that event and associated parking and transportation information.
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