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West Virginia to take steps to control crowd

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By John Grupp
Friday, Feb. 5, 2010
 

A Big East official said Thursday the conference will wait to see what steps West Virginia takes to police its unruly student section before deciding whether any league action is needed.

Big East associate commissioner John Paquette said the league was expecting a list of measures that West Virginia was going to implement regarding crowd control at the WVU Coliseum in the wake of Wednesday night's object-tossing incident against rival Pitt.

"We talked to both schools first thing this morning," Paquette said.

Big East officials, including commissioner John Marinatto and associate commissioner Dan Gavitt, addressed two incidents — including a coin that hit a Pitt assistant coach a couple inches below his left eye — in No. 22 Pitt's 70-51 loss at No. 6 West Virginia.

Pitt associate head coach Tom Herrion was doing fine Thursday afternoon, according to coach Jamie Dixon, whose slumping No. 22 Panthers (16-6, 6-4) play host to Seton Hall (12-8, 3-6) on Saturday at Petersen Events Center. Seton Hall defeated Pitt, 64-61, on Jan. 24 in Newark, N.J.

West Virginia visits Petersen Events Center on Feb. 12 in the rematch with the Panthers.

WVU officials met with the vice president of student affairs Thursday. Some possible actions include increased security in the student section and installing cameras aimed in that direction.

WVU president Jim Clements apologized Thursday to Pitt, saying he was "appalled and embarrassed" by the unruly fans.

"Boorish and unruly behavior by our fans will not be tolerated," Clements said.

Clements also said West Virginia plans to increase surveillance and security during future games.

"It is a shame that a terrific performance by our team was overshadowed by the unfortunate actions of a few fans," Clements said.

The university was reportedly considering limiting the number of students at the game to 1,600 — compared with 3,300 at the Pitt game — but that idea was rejected.

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson declined comment. Pederson, who goes to most road games, didn't travel to Morgantown because he was attending a national signing day function with the school's football team.

Dixon said Thursday that he didn't realize the extent of the objects being thrown. He was in a huddle with his players and thought Herrion was hit by what was a lone coin.

Official Mike Stephens was only a couple of feet away, walking toward Herrion, when the coin — Pitt officials said it was a quarter — struck the 42-year-old father.

West Virginia was assessed a technical for its fan behavior. It appeared WVU coaches were arguing about Herrion's veracity, but Stephens had witnessed the incident.

The incident occurred during a timeout as the officials were looking at a TV monitor to see who warranted technical fouls after Pitt's Gary McGhee and West Virginia's John Flowers got into a shoving match under the basket with 5:14 to play.

Afterward, both coaches played down the incidents.

It was the second incident of the game. With 12:10 to play in the second half, objects, including cups and plastic water bottles, were thrown on the court after West Virginia point guard Truck Bryant was whistled for traveling. WVU coach Bob Huggins grabbed a microphone and told the students: "That's stupid."

The latest misbehavior came after the Mountaineer Maniacs student section was admonished by WVU officials when vulgarities were heard on national TV during games against Ohio State and Louisville.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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