Friday, October 29, 2010
COLUMBIA (AP) — The University of Missouri says it won’t seek trespassing charges against 30 fans who were arrested for rushing onto the football field after Saturday’s big win over Oklahoma.
The 30 people were among thousands who stormed Faurot Field as the Tigers finished a 36-27 upset of the Sooners. Columbia campus chancellor Brady Deaton said in a statement Thursday that the game presented officials with “unique circumstances.”
Deaton didn’t elaborate on those circumstances, but added, “After careful review, the university will not forward the summons for trespassing on the field at the MU-OU football game to the city prosecutor.”
Many critics, including a student group and a state lawmaker, had called on the university to drop the matter. They said it was unfair that 30 people were singled out from the huge crush of fans who tore down the goal posts and carried them out of the stadium.
They also noted that the university had offered pictures of the celebration for sale and posted photos online.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Christopher Deem, a 20-year-old sophomore business student who was among the arrested, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If they’re going to let 30,000 people rush the field, they shouldn’t arrest 30. If they’re going to try and be all politically correct by arresting people and say it’s for safety, I don’t think they should be selling photos of it.”
“My view of the situation is complete and total outrage,” his mother, Bonnie Deem of St. Charles, told The Kansas City Star.
The university this week began advertising photos of the mad rush onto Faurot Field for up to $290, even sending e-mails to students that advertised the on-field fan shots, among other photos. By Wednesday, the photos were removed from the university’s website.
First-degree trespassing is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Republican state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, whose district includes Columbia, had suggested that what he called the “selective prosecution” should end with the trespassing charges being dropped if those arrested agreed to community service.
“Many of these individuals arrested are students who will now have to face the task of looking for a job after graduation with a criminal record,” Schaefer said.
Deaton’s statement said safety is the university’s top priority at sporting events. He said the aftermath of exciting games “presents challenges for those officials charged with maintaining a safe environment, which was the case immediately following the conclusion of the MU-Oklahoma football game.”
The university’s police chief, Jack Watring, said one fan sustained a broken leg and several others cut their hands while tearing down the goal posts. He said only 30 people were arrested because that’s the number that could have been with the number of officers the department had on the field.
Watring’s officers are getting a two-week breather. The 7th-ranked Tigers play Saturday at No. 14 Nebraska and the following week at Texas Tech, before returning to Columbia to play Kansas State on Nov. 13.