COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)—The eyes of Maryland sports fans will be on the Terps as they take on long time rival Duke University. But the big game brings big concerns for police and school officials worried about possible rioting.
Derek Valcourt explains why concerns are so high this year.
Last year, students planned post-game activities to prevent rioting. But Wednesday is the first day of classes for the semester, leaving no time to plan alternatives.
Students started waiting in line at 5 o’clock Tuesday to be among the first inside the Comcast Center as Maryland takes on long time rival, the Blue Devils.
“It’s a huge game, so you have to come out here and support,” said Garrett Sinnott, sophomore.
“Think this game is the biggest game of the year. Win or lose I love my Terps and I hate Duke no matter what,” said Ahmed Ghafir, sophomore.
In years past, the rivalry been so intense it has sparked post-game riots by Maryland students, who set fires and destroyed public property. Video of police manhandling one student during a 2010 riot made national headlines.
Wednesday night police are once again preparing for possible problems.
“If history repeats itself I would expect a celebration, which when you get into a mob mentally situation could evolve into a situation that is undesirable,” said Captain Marc Limansky, campus police.
Campus police say their entire force will be on hand during and after the game. Dozens of officers from Prince George’s County and other nearby jurisdictions will also be at the ready.
“If it becomes unruly, people start committing crimes. We need to be able to respond,” Limansky said.
Younger students WJZ talked to are seemingly unconcerned about warnings from the school of possible expulsion for those caught rioting.
“I kinda hope it happens again. It will be exciting. I mean obviously dangerous,” said Mike Dunlap, freshman.
“If we win we can’t be held responsible for our actions and I’m feeling pretty good about this game,” said James Mastoloni, freshman.
But for older students, fallout from past riots is still fresh in their minds.
“In the end it’s a pretty bad look for the school,” said Howard Carroll, senior.
“Yeah, you can get into a lot of trouble, but I mean as long as everybody relaxes and tries to take it for what it is, I mean it’s just a game, it’s just an athletic event,” said Tony Marvullo, junior.
School officials did send out an email warning students of the penalties for not conducting themselves with dignity and respect.
The game gets underway at 9 p.m. But first the school will hold a ceremony to name the basketball court after former Coach Gary Williams.