When Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long walks into the College Football Playoff selection committee meetings this week he will do so with a smile and his university $25,000 lighter. After putting the finishing touches on the first SEC victory for Arkansas in 17 games, Razorback fans stormed the field to join the celebration. Not only did Arkansas win the Golden Boot from rival LSU, Bret Bielema won his first SEC game since arriving from Wisconsin. It had been a long time coming with some close calls (and many not-so-close calls) along the way.
But storming the field is frowned upon in the SEC offices, and the conference issued a fine for Arkansas today for the sum of $25,000. This, according to the SEC, is the second offense for Arkansas since the rules regarding access to the area of competition (field or court etc.) were put in place by the SEC back in 2004. Arkansas was also fined for fans storming the court following a men’s basketball victory over Florida in 2006.
The SEC passes the responsibility to provide for the safety of the players, coaches and anyone else credentialed to be on the playing area to the individual universities.
“Celebration of a victory is understandable and appreciated but should be exhibited in the appropriate manner,” said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. “We cannot forget that significant risk of injury for student-athletes and fans alike can result from incidents such as this.”
LSU was fined $5,000 after fans stormed the field earlier this season following a home victory over Ole Miss. Ole Miss and Kentucky were each fined following wins (over Alabama and South Carolina, respectively) the same weekend earlier in the fall as well. Ole Miss was fined $50,000 for a third offense and Kentucky received a $25,000 fine for a second violation.