Fans travel to SFA, feel less than welcome

Sam Houston State University students who attended the basketball game at Stephen F. Austin last week have reported incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct from SFA fans upon arrival.According to student reports, the Lumberjack fans spent much of Thursday’s game throwing plastic bottles at SHSU fans, showering them with offensive comments and stealing spirit wigs from the Kat Krazies.”We got bombarded with a ton of language,” SHSU student Eric Vento said. “As soon as the second half started, we started getting soda cans and candy and food thrown at us. Some of the girls who were with us kept getting cat calls from a few of their fans. It was just really degrading.”As the Kat Krazies made their way to their seats, the opposing fans grabbed the wigs off their heads and began passing them around the stadium. At one point, an SFA student allegedly took out a lighter and attempted to light a Sam Houston spirit flag on fire.”When I found out about it, I lost my temper to put it bluntly,” SHSU Student Government Association President Christopher Whitaker said. “Ever since the fight at the football game two years ago, we’ve tried to make it a more civil rivalry. To hear reports like I heard last Thursday, it’s just completely unacceptable.”In an attempt to place the rivalry in a positive light, the SGA worked in conjunction with the student government at SFA to reincarnate the Battle of the Piney Woods. The tradition died down years ago but was brought back to life as a way to recognize the rivalry between the two schools.Despite the actions taken by student governments, the rivalry has only become more heated as the two basketball teams remain first and second in the Division 1 Southland Conference.”I had money thrown at me but I was like ‘I don’t care. I just made 30 cents off the Lumberjacks,'” Kat Krazies President Ryan Bridges said. “There were some [SFA] people that were restrained by cops in front of me because they started throwing punches at a guy. I didn’t see the guy actually hit him, but I know there was a lot of shoving and pushing around.”As the Lumberjacks pulled ahead of the Bearkats, SFA fans began a string of chants which included vulgarity and obscenities, according to SHSU students.”I was surprised they were saying that because the game was on TV and I’m sure people could make out what they were saying,” Vento said. “I’m not going to lie, some of our guys started saying things back at them after a while but we never physically did anything to them. It was mostly their comments and them throwing stuff at us.”Though many students have reported abuse at the game, SFA police officials say the game was completely under control.”I wouldn’t say it was out of hand,” SFA Police Chief Marc Cossich said. “There was some heated discussions between Sam and our people here but that’s about it.”Cossich did not comment on how many officers he had placed at the game but says he added a couple more than usual to control the estimated 7,000 fans who attended.”We haven’t really had any fights break out or any major problems with the fans except for that one football game a couple years ago, but other than that, it’s mostly just verbal,” Cossich said. “I put officers at the events to make sure that things stay verbal.””If any student, faculty or staff has a problem when they attend our events the can come by and talk to me about it,” Cossich added.Sam Houston officials were not available yesterday to comment on the situation.

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