Fans storm the field after an NCAA college football game between Tennessee and Alabama, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. Tennessee won 52-49. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

SEC Considers Drastic Penalty for Field Storming

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said on Tuesday that the conference is having “meaningful discussions” about its longstanding policy on field storming.

Potential Penalties

Since 2004, the SEC has implemented a rule against storming the field or the court. A school is fined $50,000 for its first offense, $100,000 for a second offense, and $250,000 for each subsequent offense. SEC Post-Graduate Scholarship Fund is the recipient of the fine money.

There are many rumors about what the new infractions could include. The most popular one is the idea of giving up home-field advantage the next time the team plays that same opponent. Forfeiture of the game in which the field storm occurred, an even more drastic penalty, is also in the talks but unlikely. The committee has also discussed taking away bowl game eligibility as a consequence. And of course, the potential of increasing the fines even more could be a possibility.

Why Now?

Last year in the SEC, there were several major football field storming’s. One of the most notable happened in Neyland Stadium when the Vols ended its 15-year losing streak against the Alabama Crimson Tide in October. After the loss, the Tide could barely find a clear path back into the locker room. Tennessee fans filled the field and tore down the goalposts, which would later end up in the Tennessee River. Later in the evening, a video of Alabama receiver Jermaine Burton making contact with a female fan went viral.

Coach Saban defended his player by saying, “He was scared. I was scared. Some of our other players were scared.”

The SEC fined Tennessee $100,000 for its second violation of the policy.

A week later, the same scene occurred in Death Valley after LSU defeated Alabama on Nov. 5, which resulted in a $250,000 fine for its third violation. That same day, South Carolina fans stormed Williams-Brice Stadium when the Gamecocks beat Texas A&M for the first time since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2014.

In a passionate and high-revenue conference, most schools laugh off these financial penalties.

“When people want to go, they want to go,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said on the SEC Network last week. “But we have to re-train people to stay in the stands.”

Other Conferences

Other Power Five conference schools have a different way of dealing with this problem.

In the Big 12, if there isn’t a clear path for teams to get off the field and into their locker rooms, then the team is fined. Over in the ACC, there is no existing policy on field storming. In fact, Clemson has a post-game routine, “Gathering at the Paw,” where fans enter the field after all Death Valley games. The Big Ten also does not have a policy as of 2019. Storming the field or court is against Pac 12 policy, and the first infraction carries a $25,000 punishment. Second offenses carry fines of $50,000 and $100,000.

The SEC group has yet to propose official rules on the issue. At any point between now and the start of the season, the more radical penalties could be determined.

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