The Big 12 Conference publicly reprimanded both WVU men’s basketball forward Wesley Harris and Texas Tech University following the court-storming incident after the Red Raiders’ Saturday win over WVU in Lubbock. The conference also tacked on a $25,000 fine for Texas Tech for its handling of postgame protocol.
In the moments following Texas Tech’s win, fans in Lubbock rushed the court to celebrate, running past WVU players trying to walk off the court. Video circulated on social media showed a Texas Tech fan running into Harris, with Harris striking the fan.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Texas Tech should have had protections in place to prevent such a scenario from happening, hence the fine.
“We have a duty to provide a safe game environment,” Bowlsby said. “The Texas Tech Department of Athletics has a written event management policy which was unsuccessful in ensuring the safety and security of the visiting team game participants. Although the Big 12 Conference does not currently have a policy prohibiting spectators from entering playing areas for post-game celebrations, it is of utmost importance that home game management provide adequate security measures for our student-athletes, coaches, game officials and spectators.”
Fines aren’t anything new in punishing court-storming incidents. The Big East fined Marquette $5,000 last January after fans rushed the court at the Bradley Center after Marquette beat then-No. 1 Villanova.
The Southeastern Conference fined both Auburn and Vanderbilt $100,000 for rushing the court after wins over Kentucky in 2016.
Bowlsby did not hold Harris blameless in the incident, though there was no further punishment beyond a public reprimand.
“We must ensure that a safe environment is provided for players, coaches, game officials and fans,” Bowlsby said. “Although the post-game environment did not live up to our expectations, Mr. Harris intentionally striking a fan is contrary to the conference’s sportsmanship standards.”
WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement that he was satisfied with the conference’s decision.
“I want to thank the Big 12 Conference and Texas Tech for the positive and open dialogue all three parties engaged in during the last two days. As I said before, this situation involved court security, player safety and postgame emotions and all three had to be taken into account. We will revisit with our student-athletes to again reinforce our expectations regarding sportsmanship issues across all sports. The Big 12 has issued its reprimand. We accept it, and I consider the matter closed.”
WVU fell from No. 2 to No. 6 in the Associated Press sports writers’ top 25 poll following that loss, while Texas Tech remained at No. 8. The Mountaineers host Kansas at 9 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The Jayhawks moved to No. 10 in the AP poll Monday afternoon.