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Hey SEC, It’s Time to Stop Fining Schools For Rushing the Field
AP Photo/Sam Craft

I have a bone to pick with Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey.

The Texas A&M Aggies, a previously-unranked team, upset the No. 1 team in the land, the Alabama Crimson Tide, at home Saturday night in College Station and gave college football fans one of the great football games of the 2021 season.

Fans understandably rushed the field to celebrate, and even the players loved it. Heck, A&M quarterback Zach Calzada was seen wearing a Corps of Cadets hat in what looked like a blast.

The response from the conference?

“Hey, awesome job. Great game! Now here’s a $100,000 fine!”

The SEC has a strict policy about storming the field. It bans all instances and fines schools if they don’t follow the rules because of safety concerns for everyone on the field — players, coaches, fans and everyone in between.

However, it’s about damn time the SEC embraces one of the great traditions in college football. Let me tell you why and how they should do it.

SEC Rules on Storming the Field

RELATED: Texas A&M Kicker Seth Small’s Family Goes Viral For Reaction to Field Goal That Beat ‘Bama

Currently, the SEC regulations state that a school’s first-time offense rushing the field results in a $50,000 fine. The next time it happens? $100,000. A third and all subsequent offenses warrant a $250,000 fine. Sankey also has the power to impose additional penalties after that mark.

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Here’s what the conference rules state:

?Institutions shall limit access to the competition area to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel, and properly-credentialed or authorized individuals at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest may spectators enter the competition area. It is the responsibility of each member institution to implement procedures to ensure compliance with this policy.?

Fines are paid into the SEC Post-Graduate Scholarship Fund.

Texas A&M was fined $100,000 for allowing Aggie fans to go completely berserk on Kyle Field after head coach Jimbo Fisher’s upset win over Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide.

TAMU athletic director Ross Bjork tweeted a picture of the event with a “thumbs up” emoji, followed by a separate tweet responding to Bjork happily trading $100,000 for a win over Alabama.

“I never say “no comment” but “NO COMMENT” On to the next,” he wrote.

So, what is the point of this banishment in the first place? Texas A&M’s athletic budget is some $212 million, so a cool hundred grand is no sweat. The fines aren’t big enough for schools to care, so why even have them in the first place?

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Every year we hear about one (sometimes more) of these fines. Arkansas was fined $100,000 this season after beating the Texas Longhorns. The Auburn Tigers were slapped with a $250,000 fine after the 2019 Iron Bowl.

Time and time again, schools are proving that they’d rather (rightly) provide a terrific, unforgettable game experience and cough up the dough afterward.

Therefore, it’s time the SEC does something if they really cared about keeping people safe.

How the SEC Should Embrace Storming the Field

Rather than outright banning the exhilarating practice, the SEC and its member schools should put in place policies that allow for it in a safe manner.

Worried about weapons? Metal detectors. Scared goal posts will be uprooted (which has caused deaths in the past)? Make them un-uprootable.

Maybe designate a certain area of the field that fans can storm onto, keeping football personnel separate. Take all the precautionary measures possible to still allow 100,000 hyped fans storm the field and celebrate alongside the players and coaches they cherish.

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I know security is nothing to take lightly, and the SEC would rather be safe than sorry. But the fans are storming the field when major upsets take place anyway. Only two SEC schools come to mind that have never rushed the field: Alabama and Florida.

Storming the field isn’t something to be scared of. Many other conferences don’t fine schools for rushing the field.

It’s something that should be celebrated and embraced, and the SEC should do just that, but safely.

MORE: Alabama Fans Don’t Rush The Field. Here’s Why

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Patrick covered the Florida Gators during the forgettable Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain eras before spending two seasons writing for Major League Baseball. He's a baseball junkie who spends his days defending Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. He lives in South Florida but his heart belongs in Gainesville, Florida.
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