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Root root root for the ‘Cats or leave
“Go crazy or go home.” That is the slogan of the student fan club the Crazy Bobcats. Here at Quinnipiac University, however, it seems like “go crazy and go home” is the mantra of the school’s higher-ups. One would think that a fan club should be allowed to attend a basketball game without being thrown out by the Athletic Director for simply wearing black. One might also think that booing would not be frowned upon at a sporting event. Personally I have attended countless sporting events in my lifetime and I can recall precious few where I did not hear at least one person voice their distaste at some point during the contest. Apparently here at Quinnipiac, distaste is not tolerated. If your opinion were that your team is not playing well (as evidenced by their 16-point deficit) you might decide to boo your team. According to Athletic Director, Jack McDonald and head basketball coach, Joe DeSantis, this behavior is not acceptable and is cause for banishment from the Burt Kahn Court.
According to an article in the February 12, 2004 edition of the Chronicle, McDonald disbanded the club because they “acted very poorly.” Club treasurer and co-founder, Matt Firing, says the club was never informed of this decision. The article also states that, “six members of the group showed up to Burt Kahn Court dressed in all black outfits, each wearing a Darth Vader helmet.” In fact, there were about 8 students dressed in black with exactly one wearing a Darth Vader helmet. “Once again the group sat behind the Hawks’ bench,” the article falsely claims. In truth, the group was never behind the Hawks’ bench. Some more falsehoods that were reported include the group verbally “harassing McDonald, the Hamden police officers and even Boomer the Bobcat.” Boomer was not even present at the time and nobody harassed a police officer. Actually, there was only one student who harassed McDonald but even that was not so much harassment as it was voicing his displeasure at being ejected from the game for no apparent reason. I know this because I was that student. When I reached myself for comment I said, “sure I said some regrettable things and that is, well, regrettable. But I’m not sorry about my message to Jack McDonald which is basically that we are students at this university and if we want to watch our basketball team play, he has no right to prevent us from doing that.”
According to three separate accounts of the incidents from club co-founders, Paul Robibero, Jonathan Singer, and Firing, the entire ordeal could have been avoided had McDonald clearly communicated the new rule pertaining to where the club would be allowed to sit. Singer says that the only thing McDonald told him was that they would not be allowed to sit behind the visiting team’s bench. When the group went to the next game they did not sit behind the bench but close enough to it to upset McDonald. Instead of approaching the group and explaining that they would have to move further down so as to be on the Quinnipiac side of mid-court, which is the new NEC rule, McDonald sent security guards to force the students to move the other side of the court, across from the visitor’s bench. After that game members of the Crazy Bobcats sought McDonald for an explanation and a clarification of the rule they were unknowingly violating. “We wanted to get answers,” said Singer, “give us a definition of the rule. [McDonald] never clearly said it. I didn’t know what the exact rule was until we faxed the Northeast Conference.” This is when McDonald crossed a line. He told the five “Crazy Cats” who had accompanied Singer that Singer was a bad influence and that they should no longer associate with him. “He wouldn’t give us a definite answer,” Singer continued, “he walked away.”
When Singer saw McDonald’s comment that he “did not want to chastise the group but rather teach them a life lesson,” Singer said, “I do not need him giving me fatherly advice. I have my own father.” One is left to wonder what kind of life lesson can be taken from such an ordeal. Perhaps that sporting events are only for people who will be quiet and do what they are told.
The next game against Monmouth (with all one of those Darth Vader helmets) is the one that caused the biggest uproar yet between McDonald and the fan club. About ten minutes before the game, McDonald approached the group, which was sitting across from the visitor’s bench, not behind it, and told Singer that he would have to leave. Another point of note is that McDonald has no problem with fans sitting behind the visitor’s bench during games that are being televised (which this one was) because that is the side that the cameras will show and then it will look like QU basketball has thousands of devoted fans. In fact, the original “Crazy Bobcats” section at the court was across from the visitor’s bench. You can tell because there is a banner above that section that says, “Crazy Bobcats” just as there is a banner above the cheerleaders’ section that says, “Cheerleaders.” Last season, McDonald told the group that they should sit behind the bench because it would look good on TV. At the Monmouth game, the group was sitting across from the bench under the banner bearing their name.
Hamden Police came and escorted Singer from the bleachers to the lobby of the athletic center. It was at this point when I directed my verbal tirade at McDonald. Then I was pointed out to security, which came to remove me from the seats as well. With the entire group in the lobby accompanied by a few members of the Hamden Police Department and several members of Quinnipiac Security, the entire group was left to wonder why we would not be allowed to watch the game. All security knew was that if McDonald did not want us there, it was their job to make that happen.
All the police knew was that if we refused to leave, that would be cause for arrest.
The only person who would have been able to answer our question was nowhere to be found. Not that McDonald would have answered our question anyway since explaining himself does not seem to be a thing he enjoys doing.
He had run away to hide and the most passionate fans the Quinnipiac basketball team has were banned from the game and to this day they really do not know why.