Maryland coach cautions fans to keep it clean

By The Associated Press
02.03.04

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams delivered a serious and cautionary message to students before the school’s Feb. 1 game against North Carolina State: Keep it clean.

Terrapins fans were maligned for their behavior at Maryland’s previous home game, on Jan. 21 against top-ranked Duke. Portions of the student section chanted vulgarities and many wore obscene T-shirts, creating an uncomfortable situation for university officials.

Eager to bring a halt to such behavior, Williams — who guided the Terrapins to the national championship in 2002 — took matters into his own hands.

Shortly before the opening tipoff, he grabbed the public address system microphone and said, “We can’t have obscene chants, we can’t have obscene shirts at games. We’re too good for that.”

Williams said he’s heard plenty of profanity during road games, but said such behavior at the Comcast Center is not necessary.

“It only hurts us with the officials and how we’re perceived throughout the country,” he said. “It’s got to stop.”

School officials have asked for guidance from the state attorney general’s office about how to handle such incidents, given that the school has always been told the students’ actions are protected under freedom of speech.

Sophomore Jordan Rothberg, who has a front row seat to every game, said, “It’s disrespectful to curse at games. I didn’t partake in it, but everyone heard it.”

Rothberg liked the idea of Williams telling the unruly students to end the profane behavior.

“I think Gary should say something,” Rothberg said before the game. “We’ve some of the best fans in the nation. We’re smart enough to think of our own chants without using profanity.”