Sun Belt tourney rules weren’t clear

After Sunday’s announcement of the NCAA Tournament brackets, Western’s basketball players have slipped off their dancing shoes and hope to try on some glass slippers.

But before Western’s teams find out if they’ve been given a pair of lucky 13 seeds, there’s a bit of unfinished business from last week’s Sun Belt Conference tournament.

Nearly 4,000 loud and spirited students squeezed into Diddle Arena for Tuesday night’s men’s final. After the Hilltoppers claimed a third straight Sun Belt tournament title, the throng squeezed toward the court, but they were pushed back by security personnel.

Rushing the floor is not, as some believe, an inalienable right of fans intoxicated by victory. But those fans could fairly expect such a freedom when there had been no prior announcement that the behavior would be prohibited.

As many in attendance last week learned — most notably Big Red himself — the SBC tournaments were held under the SBC’s rules, not Western’s.

But instead of making regular announcements through Diddle’s new public address system and ubiquitous PepsiVision screens, tournament officials told fans Diddley-squat about the crowd restrictions.

We’ll give the students the benefit of the doubt and assume that had such announcements been made, the crowds would have adhered to the regulations.

Instead, the students innocently advanced to the court.

It was a difficult situation for arena security, which somehow managed to keep the crush of humanity at bay. And luckily, no students, tournament workers or bystanders were seriously injured.

Now that Western’s supporters know the SBC’s rules, the circumstance is unlikely to repeat itself when the tournament returns next year.

Still, sports fans have short memories, particularly during the frenzy of a big victory.

Elated fans must be constantly reminded of the rules. When the tournaments return to the Hill, we hope Western and the SBC put the renovated Diddle’s bells and whistles to better use.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.