[Fox News] Illinois’ Brad Underwood says ‘there has to be a plan’ to get players to safety during court-storming

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Duke basketball star Kyle Filipowski found himself nursing his knee after Wake Forest fans rushed the floor following the Demon Deacons’ recent win over the eighth-ranked Blue Devils. Shortly after an on-court collision left him hobbled, Filipowski called for more protection for the players.

“Just trying to get my way off the court, and you know, you’ve got these crazy college students just doing whatever they want. It’s got to be a little more protective when things like that happen,” the Duke star noted.

Court-storming has been widely discussed in the days since Duke’s visit to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Illinois coach Brad Underwood recently joined OutKick’s “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich”, and while he did not completely object to students and fans rushing the court, he did echo Filipowski’s sentiments about implementing more advanced protective measures.

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“I’m all about the experience,” Underwood said when asked to share his position on court-storming. “I think there has to be a plan where you get the players off. And I think you gotta be sensitive to where the student sections are”

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Underwood acknowledged that Illinois fans have sprinted onto the court following a big win. He also noted that a “fine line” certainly exists when it comes to thousands of excited fans wanting to storm a basketball court.

“We’ve done (court-storming) here. We’ve had it done to us. The thing that scares me the most today is we have so much anger and hate sometimes that somebody is really going to get hurt … and I think that’s where we really have to be sensitive.”

“To me college is about creating memories and so many memories coming from sporting events … so it’s a fine line.”

Filipowski recalled how he felt the moment of the collusion and said he believed the physical contact that left him injured was “intentional.”

“I felt a bunch of hits on my body,” Filipowski told WFMY-TV about the events that resulted in a knee injury. “This one was the worst of them. Like I said, it’s just really ridiculous how, you know, that situation’s handled. I’ve already heard that there (are) some videos of (me) getting punched in the back, so I absolutely feel like it was personal, intentional for sure. There’s no reason why they see a big guy like me trying to work my way off the court and can’t work their way around me. There’s no excuse for that.”

While it is unclear whether the fan’s contact was malicious, one of the videos Filipowski may have been referring to appeared to show the moment he was injured as Wake Forest fans stampeded toward center court. An alternate angle of the scene shows multiple fans near the free-throw line before the game clock officially hit zero.

The Atlantic Coast Conference requires member schools to have detailed safety procedures in place for managing court-stormings. However, it historically has not levied fines, something four of the six major basketball conferences do for a first offense — such as the Southeastern Conference issuing a $100,000 penalty on LSU after its fans stormed the court following last week’s win over a ranked Kentucky team.

It is unclear whether the ACC will fine Wake Forest.

Later Saturday night, Wake Forest athletics director John Currie issued a statement saying he had expressed “regret” for the incident to Duke athletics director Nina King as well as to Atlantic Coast Conference senior associate commissioner Paul Brazeau.

“Although our event management staff and security had rehearsed postgame procedures to protect the visiting team and officials, we clearly must do better,” Currie said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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