A brief altercation between an SHSU football player and SFA band staff member occurred towards the end of the LMB halftime performance at this year’s Battle of the Piney Woods game, causing the rivalry and tension between the two opposing fan bases to increase.
The student, player No. 43, was identified as Connor Crow, one of two kickers for the Bearkats. With approximately four minutes left of the LMB halftime performance, Crow was seen on the field practicing field goals before the start of the third quarter.
To avoid another incident where a student could be harmed, Chris Kaatz, Associate Director of the LMB, advised the SHSU staff to ask the player to get off the field. After being asked by staff members, Crow continued to practice on the field. Kaatz felt compelled to run on the field and take up the tee Crow had been using, seeing that the color guard members were performing close to where Crow was standing. Crow proceeded to take the tee back from Kaatz, shoving him off the field in the process.
Kaatz declined an interview with the Pine Log.
Former LMB member and recent SFA Alumna Gabriella Ruiz, who now lives in Houston, attended the game and caught the altercation on video, taking it to Twitter where the video went viral. Ruiz stated that this was the fifth BOTPW game she had attended, and this was not the first time something like this had happened.
“My freshman year, one of the SHSU football players actually picked up one of the piccolo players to move her out of [his] way as he practiced kicking field goals,” Ruiz said. “We have had this problem almost every year.”
With almost 100 years of rivalry between the two opposing teams, disrespect and discrimination are increasingly more common and accepted at BOTPW games.
“Rivalry games definitely affect the behavior of the students,” Ruiz said. “There is so much tension at the games and I feel like the students feed off of that energy. I care about the lack of respect that happens at almost every football game.”
Half-time performance conference rules state that unless there are three minutes or less left on the clock, no player of either team should be on the field. The incident occurred while the LMB was still performing with approximately four minutes left on the clock, causing Crow to be in violation of this rule.
Current students of the LMB also spoke up about the incident, stating that more than anything this is a learning experience for all members, not just the ones directly involved.
“I was extremely angry. The LMB deserves respect just like the football teams do,” Cheyenne Cooper, sophomore music education major and LMB member from Quinlan, Texas, said. “But, we all make mistakes. This is a learning experience, not just for [Professor Kaatz] but for us as an ensemble.”
Director of Athletics Ryan Ivey reached out to SHSU Athletic Director Bobby Williams to discuss the role that rivalry plays in college football and how both teams can avoid the negative effects that can come from it moving forward.
“Derogatory comments, hatefulness, those [things] have no place in the rivalry,” Ivey said. “What’s so great [and] so bad about college athletics is the emotion that’s involved. [The student] made a bad choice, but that doesn’t make him a bad person. Education is key from all parties involved. There are a lot of things that didn’t happen that probably could have prevented it, so we’ve got to do better from an event management standpoint to make sure that things like that don’t happen again.”