Kansas State and TCU both received $25,000 fines from the Big 12 on Wednesday following field-storming incidents Saturday.
Kansas, which had a field storming incident of its own, earned a reprimand from the conference but wasn’t fined.
K-State athletics director Gene Taylor told The Mercury Thursday afternoon that the difference between the situations in large part had to do with where fans are located at each stadium.
When the Big 12 looks at whether to hand out a fine, Taylor said it looks at four questions:
- Did a court or field storming incident happen?
- Did officials get off the field or court unimpeded?
- Did fans come through the opposing team’s bench?
- Did the opposing team’s players and coaches also make it to their locker room without issues?
Taylor said when fans stormed the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium following a 48-41 win over then-No. 5 Oklahoma, they came through Oklahoma’s bench area. And some Sooners remained on the field long enough for postgame handshakes that they then had to wade through some K-State fans on their way back to the locker room.
Therein lies the difference between K-State and TCU’s fine and KU’s mere reprimand.
“The reason KU didn’t is because they never really came near the visiting team bench according to what I saw,” Taylor said. “The students came from the opposite end of the field. They really stayed more on the KU side and not so much on the visiting team’s bench side. And by the time the fans got out there, they were already off the field and into their locker room.”
Taylor said that's also the reason Saturday's field storming contrasts with another Wildcat-related storming event. In February, K-State's men's basketball team topped KU 74-67 at Bramlage Coliseum, snapping an eight-game skid to the Jayhawks. Fans rushed the floor following the win.
Taylor then offered a detailed explanation about how the athletics department avoided a fine that time.
"A majority of the fans came from the student section, which is opposite of the team bench; we formed a line in front of the scorer's table so the two teams could shake hands and the fans never got past that line; we got the officials off, the players shook hands and they had an unimpeded path to the locker room, while the fans were really at midcourt and toward the courtside seating as opposed to the bench area," he said. "We were able to manage that, and that's a confined area, where in football, the bench goes from the 25 to the 25. You just don't have enough — it's just really difficult."
A spokesperson from the Big 12 added further clarity as to why KU was the only one of the three schools not to receive a fine, noting that video confirmed Jayhawks' fans did not hinder Texas Tech's players and coaches' ability to leave the field at Memorial Stadium.
"In order to confirm compliance, each home institution is required to provide 10 minutes of high angle video for review by Conference Office personnel," the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Mercury. "It is this review along with reports from the officiating crew and visiting team personnel that results in the determination of sanctions and the extent of fines, if any.”
Despite receiving a fine stemming from Saturday's postgame revelry, Taylor praised the way K-State’s gameday operations staff handled the aftermath of the upset.
“The staff did a tremendous job managing that situation,” he said. “There were no incidents between an Oklahoma player or coach and our fans. The officials also got off the field very safely.”
So did Oklahoma's band. A photo that went semi-viral on various social media platforms showed K-State's "Pride of Wildcat Land" band lining up to surround the Oklahoma band. The move allowed Oklahoma's band to exit the field safely during the field storming.
It happened unbeknownst to Taylor. But he's glad the "Pride of Wildcat Land" band displayed good sportsmanship.
"We do talk with the band quite a bit, in pregame and halftime and all that stuff, but I think because of the Oklahoma game, they went down there to do some postgame stuff, so they just wanted to help the OU band get out of there, which is good of them to do that," Taylor said. "There were no issues there, either."
Taylor said he talked about the possibility of appealing the fine with members of his inner circle. But they cautioned him against it.
“Our staff said, ‘Gene, we don’t know that it’s worth the issue. Based on those three things — yes, we got a majority of the players off the field and we got the officials off, but fans did go through their bench,’” Taylor said. “Again, nothing was damaged or taken and there were a few straggler players who were just shaking hands and talking with our guys who just didn’t get off quickly.”
Taylor chuckled at the assertion that this is the happiest he’s ever been to pay a $25,000 fine. But he didn’t dispute it, either.
“All in all, we kind of said, ‘Hey, we handled it as best as we could. Staff did a great job. We’ll pay the $25,000 and move on,’” Taylor said. “Hopefully we can play well against KU this week.”