Skorton Makes Civility Push

Oct. 21, 2003

The UI Athletic Department joined UI President David Skorton, UISG President Nate Green and head football coach Kirk Ferentz Tuesday in calling for fans to “renew their commitment to safety in tailgating and to civility in cheering on” the 16th-ranked Iowa football team.

The university decided to adopt a “proactive approach” in dealing with supporters who became unruly and demonstrated vulgar behavior before and during the Hawkeyes’ 30-27 victory over Michigan more than two weeks ago.

Fans near the car park, Lot 6, were reported to have thrown empty, half-full and occasionally full bottles and cans of soda and alcoholic beverages at passing cars and pedestrians. Supporters were also seen wearing offensive T-shirts and carrying derogatory signs in and near Kinnick Stadium. The reports were filed as official complaints with the president’s office and the UISG office – the first time those offices received such messages.

“This is just poor sportsmanship, and it does not reflect well on the University of Iowa,” Green said through a press release. “That’s unfortunate, because we have more students attending football games this year, and we have been told that student behavior inside of Kinnick Stadium has been good. We appeal to all fans to be responsible and to be respectful of others.”

The appeals for civility come with some restrictions to tailgating at Lot 6, which is at the corner of Melrose and Grand avenues, south of the University Field House. The new rules will be effective immediately for Saturday’s match-up against Penn State and the remaining home games against Illinois and Minnesota.

Hawkeye fans are urged to avoid vulgar T-shirts and messages carrying profanity and demeaning statements. Tailgaters at University Parking Lot 6 are put under new guidelines to avoid possible injuries.

The rules, which will be enforced by UI Public Safety, affecting those who frequent University Parking Lot 6 are as follows:

Lot 6 will open at 8.30am. Other football parking will open at 7am.

Only people with football game tickets will be allowed in Lot 6, regardless whether they arrive in cars or on foot.

No one will be allowed to remain in Lot 6 once the football game begins.

“Because tailgaters in Lot 6 have put other fans at risk of serious injury, we are compelled to take action,” Skorton said. “There is simply no justification for this dangerous behavior.”

The president’s office made clear that it does not want to end tailgating at university athletic events. The president’s official spokesman also made clear that the office wants to stop isolated incidents before the onset of a widespread problem.

“Will this work? We don’t know,” said UI Director of University Relations Steve Parrott before Coach Ferentz’s weekly press conference. “I think what we’re just trying to do is reduce the likelihood of someone getting seriously hurt. We hope people will understand that we don’t want to impinge too much on their tailgating, but people are at risk of getting hurt.”

Skorton noted that the entire Big Ten Conference has embarked on a campaign to improve behavior at sporting events. The Big Ten has created a Big Ten Fans’ Creed, which calls for fans to wear school colors with pride, “cheer at the top of our lungs; sing our school song off-key; respect conference traditions; support our team, win or lose; and treat our visitors with respect.”

Ferentz echoed the sentiments of the Skorton, Green and Parrott, and said that Iowa fans have a reputation that needs to be maintained.

“I think the majority of our fans have been fantastic all the way through,” he said. “One thing as a coach and I think the players too, really appreciate is the electricity and the loyalty that our fans have given us through the good times and the bad times.

“I think Iowa fans have always enjoyed a stellar reputation,” he added. “I just want to encourage everybody to come to the games and partake in the proper spirit.”

Barry Pump,