Usher’s miscue sparks protest at USU basketball game

Silence.That’s what was heard in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in the moments following the Utah State-Denver tipoff, which eventually ended in a USU loss 67-54 Wednesday. It was the first home loss since Dec. 5, 2009, snapping the third-longest home winning streak in the nation.In protest, the Aggie student section sat down and did not cheer while 180 seconds ticked off the game clock. At the 17-minute mark, they began chanting “Let’s go, Aggies.”Contrary to initial chatter on social media speculating the cause of the protest, the sit-down was not in response to a controversial apology letter written by USU President Stan Albrecht after the BYU game Nov. 11.ASUSU’s Athletics Vice President Ryan Baylis said fans definitely crossed the line by heckling Cougar forward Brandon Davies.”It wasn’t pre-planned about the apology, it was just about the events of that night,” Baylis said. “I think (the apology) was kind of in the back of everyone’s mind.”Charley Riddle, a junior majoring in biology who sat on the front row during both games, said the BYU game had nothing to do with the actions of spectators in the student section Wednesday night.”For the most part, I think most students got over the apology letter like two days later,” Riddle said. “It wasn’t until they started enforcing all these rules with what we could and could not say.”Riddle said the real reason for the protest was because an event staff employee was demanding the students adhere to new behavioral rules.Utah State Athletic Director Scott Barnes told the Utah Statesman in a phone interview Thursday that the long-time event staff employee had suggested some things to the students who then confused it to be policy change.”Our facilities director asked him to go over there and talk to them about the usual,” Barnes said in regard to a typical pre-game reminder of respectable conduct. “He added to that and sort of demanded that they not do certain things. Those aren’t the things we are legislating at all.”Jake Frisby, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies and a front-row spectator at Aggie games, said the usher told students they were not allowed to chant “stupid” or “you suck” after an opposing player turned the ball over or committed a foul, which the student section largely adhered to.”Apparently it was just this guy making stuff up,” Frisby said. “He made it sound like even if it was basketball-oriented we couldn’t even say anything negative to an individual. We just had to cheer for our team; we couldn’t point, we couldn’t lean over the rail.”In conversation, Frisby and Riddle explained that the usher told students punishments would include ejection from the game, ID-card confiscation, making the first five rows off limits to students and possible arrest for those who dispute new policies.Barnes also said he has spoken with the event staff employee to make sure something like this never happens again.”It’s unfortunate that the usher’s comments sort of went viral in a very short period of time,” Barnes said.

<a href=”http://www.usustatesman.com/2.5211/sports”>To read this story and others on the Utah Statesman website, click here.</a>

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