Auburn’s Bruce Pearl calls for safer measures to combat court-storming incidents

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Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl is all for fans storming the court, but he suggests that it has to be done in a safer manner after Iowa star Caitlin Clark collided with an Ohio State supporter on Sunday.

Pearl appeared on OutKick’s “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich” on Monday and said court storming has to be “managed because it is dangerous.” He pointed to the 2021-2022 season in which Arkansas upset Auburn at Bud Walton Arena and fans rushed the floor.

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Auburn coach Bruce Pearl reacts to a call during the first half against Mississippi on Jan. 20, 2024, in Auburn, Alabama. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

“In all seriousness, at Arkansas, they said they had a plan and they didn’t. And I about got trampled, and I can’t move very well, and a police officer kind of picked me up as I was falling on the ground,” Pearl said.

“But that could’ve been really serious yesterday. I think there’s nothing wrong. I think, especially when we know the game is going to be decided, let the opposing team get off the floor for a second, call a time-out or maybe just have those, I guess they supposedly said they did, have those ropes off to the side where the benches are just flat out. But at Arkansas, you have to walk across the court to get to the exit. It is a problem and thank God she didn’t get hurt.”

Clark was seen running toward her tunnel as Ohio State fans leaked onto the court after the game was over. It didn’t appear that Clark and the fan were looking at where they were going until it was too late. Clark took the bump and the fan continued on with the celebration.

Bruce Pearl vs LSU

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl is shown during the game against LSU at Neville Arena in Auburn, Alabama, on Jan. 13, 2024. (Michael Chang/Getty Images)

An Ohio State player and coaching personnel from both sides came over to tend to Clark. She was helped back to the locker room but told reporters she was doing OK after the hit.

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“Now, obviously, I can see they’re storming the court, which is totally fine and, I mean, good for their students,” Clark said, per the Dayton Daily News.

“Great win for them, and I was just trying to exit the court as quickly as possible, so I started running, and I was absolutely just hammered by somebody trying to run onto the court and basically blindsided … kind of scary; could have caused a serious injury to me and knocked the wind out of me. But luckily, my teammates kind of picked me up and got me off the court.”

Clark added that Ohio State’s athletic director apologized to her.

Caitlin Clark reacts

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is shown during the game against Ohio State at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, on Jan. 21, 2024. (Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today Network)

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“I’m sure they tried their best to do whatever they could,” she said. “Obviously, it didn’t work and that’s disappointing but, you know, just focus now on the game and ways we can get better.”

Clark scored 45 points as No. 2 Iowa fell to No. 18 Ohio State.

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