Before Kansas State students can pick up their tickets to home sporting events this year, they have to sign a sportsmanship pledge in which they promise to “refrain from using profanity and inappropriate chants” and to “show respect for all participating student-athletes, coaches, fans and officials.”
Any student found in violation of the sportsmanship pledge risks punishment from the school, including being removed from games and having their tickets taken away for the athletic year.
“We want to take the lead in the Big 12 and try to have our student section be representative of the type of environment that should be present at college sporting events,” said Scott Garrett, K-State’s senior associate athletic director for external operations. “We will have over 8,000 students at our first football game on Saturday and many more throughout the season. We want to start the year off right and make sure we are representing our university, our conference and all of our students well across all of our athletic competitions.”
The sportsmanship pledge is a first of its kind in the Big 12. K-State students and athletic administrators came up with the idea together, Garrett said. They held several meetings on sportsmanship in the wake of K-State’s men’s basketball victory against Kansas last season at Bramlage Coliseum, where students loudly chanted inappropriate language during the game and stormed the court afterward. A student seemingly went out of his way to bump KU’s Jamari Traylor.
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Arena security failed to properly control the postgame celebration, which led to a reprimand from the conference and new Big 12 policies on the subject. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby can now punish schools with fines and more serious measures if they lose control of future gameday atmospheres.
In his latest letter to K-State fans, athletic director John Currie praised the sportsmanship pledge, writing that sportsmanship has become a conference-wide emphasis.
“We take sportsmanship very seriously,” he wrote, “and truly believe that our fans are the best in the country.”
The hope is for them to be both vocal and respectful.
“We don’t want to do anything to diminish the type of atmosphere that we have from a competitive standpoint,” Garrett said. “Our students make a very intimidating environment. We don’t want to take away from that. This is a way for us and for our students to take leadership.
“There is a very vocal minority of people that don’t necessarily behave the right way all the time, but it reinforces for the ones that are positive that the culture at Kansas State is for our student fans to provide a positive atmosphere, not one that detracts from our national reputation.”
Garrett said he has not heard any complaints from students about the pledge.
“We had a student sportsmanship committee with leaders from all across campus,” Garrett said, “and they have really been pleased with how things came together. It has been positive.”
Question is, how seriously will K-State enforce the sportsmanship pledge? When a student, or group of students, curses during a game, will they really be banned from football games for the remainder or the year? Will they be issued a warning? What if the entire student section chants something inappropriate?
The answer is to be determined.
“We will deal with those on a case-by-case basis,” Garrett said. “That is no different from what we have had before. We have had ejections for students that consumed alcohol and were physically impaired. We have had ejections for students with profanity on their shirts. Sometimes they go through campus police, sometimes they go through the student judicial system.
“Basically, we don’t want to surprise anyone. Here are our expectations and here is what can happen if you don’t meet those expectations down the road. I hope we don’t have to do that. That wasn’t the intent of making them sign this pledge. Our students are prepared to take ownership of really providing a competitive environment without modifying the game-day experience. They are committed to helping us reinforce that positive culture.”