MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – New West Virginia University head football coach Dana Holgorsen is respected across the country for his high-scoring offense.
Now, WVU is asking Mountaineer fans to pay similar respect to their fellow football fanatics and promote a healthy and safe game day experience inside Milan Puskar Stadium and other athletics venues in 2011.
“We don’t want to lose any of the raucous, home-field advantage that we have because this is a hard place to play,” said WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck. “At the same time, we’ve got opposing fans that travel to WVU, and we want them to leave Morgantown with a good impression of the University, the city, the state and of our fan base. We also want our fans – from kids to grandparents – to enjoy the game.”
Fans will see signs posted inside the football stadium for the “High Five Rules of the Game,” which detail what will not be considered acceptable on a game day.
“Our goal at the stadium is fun and enjoyable time but the key is safety,” said WVU Police Chief Bob Roberts. “This all goes back to behavior; if people are respectful and follow the ‘High Five Rules of the Game,’ they will have a great time and experience no interaction with security.”
“The High Five Rules” are as follows: No excessive drinking – intoxicated fans are not allowed inside or outside the stadium; No foul or abusive language; No smoking in the seating or concourse areas; No throwing stuff (anything) onto the field; No ignoring of the instructions of Event/Security personnel.
Fans, as always, are encouraged to enjoy themselves at games but abide by these rules to create the best atmosphere for fans of the Mountaineers and the opposition.
“The ‘High Five’ campaign will help, because it’s going to try to steer fans in the right direction of being extremely passionate and loyal, but avoiding the profanity and other inappropriate behavior,” said Mountaineer Maniacs Director Steve Staffileno. “
Staffileno encourages fans to participate in all of WVU’s cheers and traditions like the “Let’s Go Mountaineers” and first-down chants.
The goal of the campaign is to help make WVU one of the safest, respectful and most enjoyable game day atmospheres in the country.
WVU Athletics will have courtesy patrols walking through tailgating areas, and University Police officers will continue to patrol the tailgating areas. Offenders of these rules will be handed a small card with the rules. These cards will also be handed out at several events throughout the year including, Fan Fest on Sept. 2 and other events prior to the team’s season opener against Marshall on Sept. 4.
WVU will allow the controlled sales of beer at home football games this season. Fans of legal age may not purchase more than two beers in plastic bottles at once. Sales will be cut off mid-way through the third quarter and will not be available near student sections. These new policies will coincide with the new no smoking and no re-entry rules put in place earlier this year.
Roberts said fans who are significantly intoxicated will not be allowed to enter the stadium. In addition, fans who try to bring in contraband to the stadium will face ejection.
“Fans need to keep in mind that it’s a sporting event, and that it’s entertainment. It’s not worth getting a criminal record for,” Roberts said. “We’ve got to make sure that it’s safe for everyone. The good thing about the ‘High Five Rules of the Game’ campaign is that it will allow for all of that to happen.”
In addition, WVU is partnering with vendor Sodexo and Anheuser-Busch for multiple awareness programs. Workers serving alcohol to fans will wear badges as part of the “We I.D.” program. All concessions workers and event security staff will undergo Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management training for proper techniques and expectations for the sale of alcoholic beverages. Also, a designated driver program will be offered at each home game.
Fans are reminded that while in the stadium and in need of assistance, they can call 304-293-FANS or text AID to 94597. There are first aid stations located on the east and west concourses and in the north end zone. Also, police and event staff members will aid fans that need assistance.
Roberts asks fans to please review the “Fan Safety” tips on the WVU Police website for those making a trip to Milan Puskar Stadium this fall at: http://police.wvu.edu/safety_on_campus/fan_safety
This coincides with the NCAAs RESPECT Campaign, which focuses on fan, student-athlete and coach conduct and behavior.
“The proper thing to say to opposing fans that made the trip to Morgantown is, ‘Hi, and welcome to Morgantown,’ or ‘Come join us at our tailgate,’” Luck said. “Mountaineer fans want to be treated that way when they travel, as well.”
West Virginia is known for its passionate fans. The Sporting News ranked Morgantown as the 55th-best sports town in the nation in 2010. In addition, the Mountaineers’ “Flying WV” logo is one of the most recognizable in the country. WVU has the most fans of any BIG EAST Conference team on its Facebook page, as well.
Since 2003, that atmosphere has helped the WVU football team garner the 10th-most home victories of any program in that span. Over the past three years, WVU has won 90 percent of its home games. West Virginia has led the BIG EAST in attendance over the last six years.