Iowa women’s basketball sensation Caitlin Clark was injured in a frightening collision with an Ohio State fan Sunday after the Buckeyes stormed the court to celebrate their upset victory over the No. 2 Hawkeyes.
Chaotic Court Storming Leads to Scary Collision
In front of a record-breaking crowd of 12,114 at Value City Arena in Columbus, unranked Ohio State shocked second-ranked Iowa 84-82 to hand the Hawkeyes their first Big Ten loss this season. As the final buzzer sounded, swarms of Ohio State students and fans stormed the court in jubilant celebration of the monumental upset.
In the chaos of the court storming, Buckeyes fans barreled towards the Iowa players still standing on the court. One exuberant young fan collided forcefully into Iowa star Caitlin Clark from behind, knocking the All-American guard down hard to the floor.
Clark lay prone on the court surrounded by celebrating Ohio State fans for several scary moments before her teammates were able to help her up. Though shaken, the Big Ten’s leading scorer (28.4 points per game) was able to walk off the court under her own power.
“That was kind of scary,” Clark told reporters after the game. “I was walking off the court and next thing I know, I just got slammed into.”
Calls to Review Court Storming Safety Policies
The frightening scene has renewed calls for schools to review their policies allowing fans to rush the playing surface, citing safety concerns for players and fans alike.
“Player safety has to always be top of mind,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. “Maybe we need to take a look at not storming the floor.”
Clark agreed safety should come first, but didn’t call for an outright ban on court storming. “It’s a tough situation, you want the fans to be involved, but at the same time we gotta be safe,” she said.
The Big Ten Conference currently fines schools $10,000 for the first court/field storming violation, with fines escalating for repeat occurrences. But outrage over player safety could lead to much stricter policies prohibiting fans entering the playing area.
History of Court Storming Incidents
College basketball has a long, storied history of fans rushing the court to celebrate monumental upsets and championships. But increased concerns about safety has put the practice under scrutiny.
Sunday’s incident recalls other scary situations caused by rowdy court storming celebrations:
In 2022, Kentucky coach John Calipari had to help escort his players off the court through a hostile crowd storming the floor after an upset loss at Arkansas.
Wichita State’s Ron Baker suffered a concussion after being knocked down by fans storming the floor following a 2014 NCAA Tournament win over Kentucky.
A Rush The Court blog tracking court storms has documented over 1,300 occurrences across college basketball since 2004.
“Storming the floor is obviously a long tradition in college sports, but player safety has to come first,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball. “We want exciting environments for fans while also protecting the safety of players, coaches and fans — we have to find ways to provide both.”
Caitlin Clark By The Numbers
28.4: Clark’s nation-leading scoring average. She ranks 2nd in the country with 8.3 assists per game.
81: Clark’s point total in Iowa’s recent win over Michigan State, breaking the Big Ten record for points in a conference game.
3: Clark had 30-point triple doubles in her first two seasons at Iowa, the most ever for a D-1 player.
41: Clark’s point total in last year’s win over Ohio State. She finished with 28 points on Sunday before the injury.
What This Means for Iowa Going Forward
The collision put a painful exclamation point on a shocking upset loss that deals a major blow to Iowa’s national championship hopes. Some key implications for the No. 2 ranked Hawkeyes:
Injury Concerns: Thankfully Clark seems to have avoided major injury, but getting plowed by a sprinting fan certainly raises injury worries should she have suffered a concussion or other issues. Iowa desperately needs their Wooden Award candidate healthy for a March run.
Conference Race Impact: The loss drops Iowa to 4-1 in Big Ten play, just a half game up on Indiana and Maryland. The wide open conference race gets much murkier.
National Standing: Iowa will certainly slip from their No. 2 ranking after the upset loss. Votes for the No. 1 spot now focus more intently on undefeated South Carolina.
Despite the painful loss, Iowa is still loaded with talent and should remain among the nation’s elite. But their dazzling star getting demolished by a court-storming fan puts a dark cloud over a program with legit national title hopes.
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