Stormy Courts – Addressing a Growing Problem in College Basketball

Stormy Courts – Addressing a Growing Problem in College Basketball

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from Sports Litigation Alert. To subscribe, visit

By Prof. Gil Fried, The Crowd Management Doctor, University of West Florida

Court storming is a rite of passage.  So was paddling, wedgies, and other antics that we have decided as a society need to end.  Maybe it is time to stop court/field storming.  The following represent some insight from Professor Gil Fried of the University of West Florida (Professor and Interim Assistant Dean of the College of Business) who is often referred to as the Crowd Management Doctor.  Prof. Fried has written extensively on the topic and has been educating security personnel for many years.  He also has been an expert witness in some of the largest United States crowd management cases in the past 30 years, including crowds storming fields at college football games and a high school basketball game often mentioned in many articles (the Kay case from 2024 in Arizona).  Kay was injured during a court storming by fans after a high school basketball game and suffered a torn carotid artery (and a stroke) that left him paralyzed on his right side.  He was going to be a volleyball player at Stanford University before the injury changed his life. (

The following represent some ideas to consider related to court storming.  There have been numerous ideas presented, but some of the easiest solutions really have not been promoted for fear of alienating fans.  The positive and negative to various solutions will be considered along with the historical backdrop of what is now front and center for many sport fans.

Storming Incident

Early 2024 was a tough month for basketball fans and their celebration around basketball games.  On February 24th, Duke’s star player Kyle Filipowski was injured when fans collided with him when they stormed the court after a victory by Wake Forest against the Blue Devils.  The students came so fast onto the court that Filipowski had no time to protect himself.  (

That incident came shortly after Iowa star basketball player Caitlin Clark avoided serious injury when a fan rushed onto the court after Ohio State beat the Hawkeyes.  The fan can be seen on video running onto the court with her phone in the air taking a picture or video.  The fan was oblivious to arguably the best college basketball player in the country and easily could have seriously injured her.  While Caitlin was knocked down, she was able to get off the court and was not seriously injured. (

In December, Purdue men’s coach Matt Painter and his top-ranked Boilermakers lost at Northwestern. A month later, his No. 1-ranked team lost at Nebraska. A month after that, Purdue lost at Ohio State. Home-team fans stormed the court each time. In his postgame comments in Lincoln, Painter called for improved preparatory safety measures.  In anticipation of a possible court storming at the Northwestern game some of the Purdue players and staff were seen exiting the court while time was still on the clock and Northwestern was shooting free throws.  In fact, students started rushing the court with 0.3 seconds left on the clock and had to be ushered back for the free throws to take place.  (

Since the start of 2024, there have been three court storms after Big Ten basketball games at Nebraska: January 9- when the Cornhuskers routed top-ranked Purdue; February 1, when the Cornhuskers came back from 19 points down to beat No. 6 Wisconsin in overtime; and February 11, when the Nebraska women’s team overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Clark and No. 2 Iowa.

What are the possible solutions, and do they work?

The following are various solutions that have been undertaken or suggested to deal with court/field storming.