West Virginia University is continuing to take steps to change the culture when it comes to post-game behavior as a big weekend of college football in Morgantown approaches.
With ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasting from campus from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday (Nov. 1) and a matchup between No. 20 WVU and No. 10 TCU televised nationally by ABC at 3:30 p.m., the University wants to continue to be a hospitable host and have an electric game atmosphere, but curb the destructive behavior that occurred six hours after the Oct. 18 Baylor victory.
“As I have stated before, it’s time to take our University back, and this weekend will be a great opportunity for us to do so,” said WVU President Gordon Gee. “I hope that all of our students and fans understand that we take these situations very seriously, and we hope that we can continue to have a safe and friendly environment for Saturday’s game – with appropriate celebrations afterwards.”
The students can’t wait either. More than 13,000 requested tickets to the game, which was designated as a sellout on Tuesday. In fact, by the time the sun set on Tuesday night, more than 50 tents were set on the Mountainlair Plaza in anticipation of the College GameDay show. Students are affectionately calling the area “Tent City,” and a Twitter account (@WVU_TentCity) has even been created for the area.
University employees and local businesses are accommodating these students by providing dinner and opening up the Mountainlair during the night at various times to allow the students to warm up. Temperatures this week are expected to dip into the 30s.
The first students showed up on Sunday night. The group of Tommy Skinner, Brittany Brown, Andy Thomas and Andrew Osborne purchased a tent on Sunday afternoon and set it up as soon as they could. With a tent filled with blankets and necessities needed to make it through the late fall nights, the foursome take shifts throughout the day to be able to head to class. These students are considered the “mayors” of Tent City.
“If we actually planned this, we probably wouldn’t have been here on Sunday,” joked Brown, a junior criminology major. “We would’ve waited a few days. But it’s been great, because the (tent) community is really spreading.”
Once the group set up shop, many students followed. Skinner, a senior finance and accounting double major, noted that the group has become a caring community of its own, with students looking after each others possessions as others come and go to class and work, to the point of recognizing “quiet time” for study and sleep. Skinner anticipates more than 200 tents by Saturday morning.
There’s even talk of a costume party on Halloween.
“The administration has really allowed us to run it as students, and we really appreciate the trust they’ve given us,” Skinner said. “This is a very positive atmosphere, and we really want our student body to be known for things like this and not what went on after the Baylor game.”
He was among many students who were angry and frustrated by the small number of students and others who engaged in the destructive behavior two weeks ago.
Others were outraged as well, as marketing majors Deonna Gandy and Chris Hickey set out to encourage WVU community members to share why they are a #RespectfulMountaineer on social media. The student-led movement has picked up steam since it was initiated.
Saturday is the first “True Blue” game, where all fans headed to Milan Puskar Stadium to watch the Mountaineers are asked to wear blue. In addition, blue T-shirts with the #RespectfulMountaineer message, will be placed throughout the student section prior to the game.
To see what some of the WVU community has been saying in regard to #RespectfulMountaineer, visit: https://tagboard.com/RespectfulMountaineer/195459.
A student-driven PSA encouraging respect, plus a video message to alumni and friends from President Gee are also planned. Advertisements encouraging respect, signed by student-athletes can also be found this week in The Daily Athenaeum, the student newspaper.
CONTACT: University Relations/News
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