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President Capilouto can prevent some Commonwealth Stadium attendance issues


Looking at the picture to the right of UK’s student tailgate area, you  wouldn’t think for a second that it was a college football gameday in the south.  But that was the scene in Lexington this weekend for the Cats’ game against No. 6-ranked South Carolina.

After the news broke that UK President Eli Capilouto was banning all alcohol, DJs and bands along Cooper Drive and in the traditional fraternity/sorority tailgating area (the “bowl”), everyone assumed the tailgating situation on Saturday was going to be less lively than usual.  But the truth is, there just simply wasnt a tailgate scene.  And by extension, attendance in the student section during the game was poor.

Most believe that Capilouto bringing the hammer down had to do with a fight that went down in the tailgate area before the UK-Western Kentucky game.  A video surfaced of the fight, and was posted on several UK fan sites and message boards.  Then this week, Capilouto passed the ruling that would effectively “cancel” the student tailgating scene.

Needless to say, some students were not happy about this.

“While I understand the need for some kind of punishment following what happened two weeks ago at the tailgate, I don’t think essentially “cancelling” the tailgate will help. I don’t think it’s fair that the whole student body be punished for what a small group of people did…Now, instead of tailgating on campus in a somewhat protected environment, students will be tailgating off campus,” said Lydia Whitman, a sophomore at UK. “Also, after seeing the video, I wonder where the police were when students were breaking up the fight.  I think instead of giving students citations for underaged drinking, the undercover cops should be more concerned with bigger issues.”

Most students understood the president’s point of view, but thought he could have gone about the situation in a different way.

“I think it’s ridiculous to go from no warning to nobody allowed there,” said Brett Uminger, another student at UK. “I do understand where he is coming from, but I also think that shutting that down is only going to cause people to rage harder elsewhere and be more disruptive.”

While there have not been any reports of “incidents” during off-campus tailgates, the truth remains that the scene at Commonwealth Stadium was bleak.

“It is a shame to see the amazing time that I experienced as an undergrad to be taken away from those younger students,” said Sean Howard, a 2011 UK graduate. “Tailgating is a time that should be about students socializing with each other and rallying behind our football team. It is a shame that the delinquent behavior of a few can ruin a good thing for an entire community.”

While there is no official number for how many students were at the actual game, the majority of the student section’s upper deck was empty. After halftime, the students started filing out as soon as the Gamecocks went up on the Cats by four points heading into the fourth quarter.  An entire quarter was remaining, UK was down by less than a touchdown to a top-10 team and a good portion of the stadium was already filing out, especially in the student section.

It’s hard to blame only Capilouto for the decreased attendance on the students’ part.  However, judging by the reactions of those I talked to, his ruling was certainly the major contributor.  Sad as it may seem, the chance to drink and be in the company of friends is one of the main factors in a UK student’s decision to attend a football game at Commonwealth this season.  Only the hardcore football fans will be the ones who continue to attend, especially when there is no incentive otherwise to be there (i.e. parties, alcohol, etc).

President Capilouto is going to have to think long and hard about his tailgating decision before UK’s next home game.  While the fight that happened at the WKU game was belligerent and irresponsible, that small group of people is not representative of the entire student tailgating scene at UK.  If student attendance at the games continues to dwindle as it has been doing, Capilouto will have to consider bringing back the Cooper Drive tailgating opportunities – whether they choose to come to the game or not because of the team is the students’ choice.  However, their attendance issues are actually something very preventable, and Capilouto should consider looking at the big picture rather than at one irresponsible scene. 

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/president-capilouto-can-prevent-some-commonwealth-stadium-attendance-issues/


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  1. Chief McHeath

    “It is a shame that the delinquent behavior of a few can ruin a good thing for an entire community.”

    I counter that it is a truism that the delinquent behavior of a few can ruin a good thing for an entire community. The fight that happened on the WKU weekend was simply the first time an instance like that reached YouTube. For years, there have been fights, sexual assaults (yes, ganging up on a girl and playing grab-ass, while not rape, is still sexual assault), police called, fire marshals called, etc. It came to a head with things being posted on YouTube.

    While it SHOULD be a tradition that students tailgate, drink (responsibly, though that’s rarely the case) and raucously support their Blue, the mark of a few can and will dispose the many, and it is a negative reflection not only on the University itself, but upon the students and fraternities and sororities that make up the tailgate in “the bowl.”

    As a student, though I had no part, I have shame, and as studentS, we should all carry shame.

    MT, class of 2013.

    1. larryvaught

      Thanks Chief for certainly adding a different perspective for us on this matter

    2. Juan4UK

      This info changes everything. Thanks. I was under the impression that overall, this was a non trouble area.

  2. Bill

    I’m not certain he cares about football at UK. He’s not supportive from the interviews I have heard. Has he even gone to a football game?

    1. Juan4UK

      he was out on the floor to put his hands on the ff trophy.

  3. Ethan

    The president actually has his own box seats at the football game, so unless he has a major conflict elsewhere, he is at every game. With that being said, I completely agree with what is said here and knowing that he could see the student section in person, I think he will have to change something.

  4. johnl

    Capiliouto really overreacted on this one.He is takeing a fun activity away from kids who have’nt done anything wrong because a couple of neanderthals decided to act more stupid than they actually may be.

  5. Gene

    “Over-reaction” is too soft a description.
    Capilouto obviously could care less about UK football.
    The team is led by a headcoach who is in way, WAY over his head. He has had 8 years to prove himself as any kind of a competent leader and coach. This is what we have, maybe Rich Brooks’ biggest mistake.
    Attendance is in the tank before this “executive order”.
    What else is there for most of the drunks who attend these so called tailgate parties ??
    49K in attendance for the So. Carolina game—Next home game—-maybe 40K.

  6. Jim

    It appears Kentucky took as much time in their search for a President as they did for a football coach.

    But seriously, one would think that a President of a University would make wise decisions. Alienating the sudent body, by punishing all for the actions of a few, was not a wise decision.

  7. Jim Boyers

    This is merely a microcosm of how our current society functions as a whole. The norm is to punish the many for the deeds of the few. Always has been. Think about how many things are banned because some idiot has abused them. No one wants to accept responsibility for their own actions anymore. Get hurt because you were doing something illegal or unbelievably stupid, like fighting at a tailgate party? You did? Well then, sue the crap out of the property owner BECAUSE YOU CAN.

    The reality is that it is an absolute miracle that one of the idiots involved in the fight hasn’t already tried to sue the university because they were injured on school property or suffered a terrible “mental trauma” from witnessing the events. The president is doing what he needs to do to protect the institution. Can it be done in a different way? Yes. And I think you will see a major tweaking of the ban, including reinstating the ability to do most of the things that have been banned (Unfortunately for the student body, underage drinking will still be illegal). They will find a way to let the tailgating recommence and keep better control of the situation. It will probably be something as simple as beefing up security and focusing more on how the crowd interacts, as opposed to focusing on smaller issues.

    There will be never be a perfect solution and there will probably be permanent changes that will make tailgating less attractive to some people, but that is the price that must be paid because of this incident bringing everything to a head. Don’t be angry at the university for “overreacting”. They need to protect the institution, as well as the people on their campus.

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Re: punish for actions for a few. Do you know that UK has had a problem with students burning furniture and disrupting neighborhoods near UK after football games? Could it be that the UK president is trying to address a problem with student behavior?

  8. Anonymous

    Larry. I witnessed a group of about 40 students set up in the purple lot before the game on Saturday. These guys were frat guys dressed preppy and were minding their own business. They had five parking permits that they had bought for 300 dollars on the street. I watched with my own eyes the UK police and a admistration official remove these guys because they said you can not have a parking sticker on a student ticket. The way that this was handled was a shame and it’s no wonder that the students don’t come. I am a 60 year old alum who has attended games since the late 60’s. This uk administration treats it’s customer pitiful and it part of the reason All fans have a sour taste.

  9. Steve Schuppert

    Larry. I witnessed a group of about 40 students set up in the purple lot before the game on Saturday. These guys were frat guys dressed preppy and were minding their own business. They had five parking permits that they had bought for 300 dollars on the street. I watched with my own eyes the UK police and a admistration official remove these guys because they said you can not have a parking sticker on a student ticket. The way that this was handled was a shame and it’s no wonder that the students don’t come. I am a 60 year old alum who has attended games since the late 60’s. This uk administration treats it’s customer pitiful and it part of the reason All fans have a sour taste.

    1. larryvaught

      Steve, that is pitiful indeed based on what you described. I am with you. If I was a student, I would leave, too

    2. Ashley Scoby

      Steve, that is absolutely ridiculous. Especially since they paid with their own money for the parking pass, there is no reason why they should have been kicked out. Unbelievable.

      1. larryvaught

        Amen to that Ashley

    3. Juan4UK

      A BIG deal needs to be made about that. Kernel needs to do a story as well as others that can put some heat on the admin. Take all this in addition to the , mandatory school during the FF and you have an admin that is building a poor case for itself.

    4. Juan4UK

      Let me get this straight…… 1 (one) Parking pass, for a parking spot, cost $60?? Huh? I am totally not familiar with any of the set up. Haven’t been to a game sine ’89 when I went there. And a parking space costs $60????? Come on, no way.
      At any rate, if you buy a pass you get the spot. Student, teacher, bum, whatever. That’s how things work, you pay-you get. educate me,, I have to be missing something.

  10. Kokamo Joe

    The president of the University of Kentucky has a responsibility for more than football. He was right for trying to curb the flagrant misbehavior of UK students. Futhermore if the only reason college kids come to a football game is to get drunk the UK football program has more serious problems that I had thought.

    1. King Ghidora

      Are you even a UK fan Joe? You seemed to be an IU fan until recently. Are you here trying to equate what happens in Lexington with what happens in Bloomington? You’ve never posted here except to insult UK and UK fans and you showed up after the disgrace at Assembly Hall. I just thought anyone reading your posts should know that.

    2. Juan4UK

      It’s not about that. Your dipping, and don’t know the flavor.

  11. Steve Schuppert

    Students are students. They are no better or worse than they ever were. In my generation they had sit ins and war protest and smoked dope in the class rooms and on the street corners. Kokamo every one is entitled to their opinion and I don’t approve of fighting and disrespecting peoples property drug use or drunkeness. Football is suppose to be fun. Attendance is at a all time high in the sec. It is not at UK because of the sorry product that they try to pass off as a football program. It is suppose to be FUN. Go to the game and look around. Guess what they have a half of a stadium. People are in a bad mood. Harassing students are turning off their future customers..

  12. shinny

    Let’s all remember where Calilouto came from. UAB played all their home game in the large Legion Field. I’m sure he had access to a box there and could witness all the empty seats. He is use to seeing the scene!!!!

  13. KYWCAT

    Did I understand that the President did not actually ban tailgating but rather all the components that comprise tailgating? I am in my mid 30’s and we have loud music at our RV every week. Oh and guess what we drink. Yes we are of age. I understand if the President says there will tighter enforcement of an underage drinking law that already exist but simply to strike out tailgating by striking out all the components that comprise it is silly. UK is unlike any other school in the SEC. We have more rules and regulations than any other school I have seen. I have been to all other SEC schools on gameday except Arkansas. Most schools, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, I could go on and on. Go to great lengths to promote tailgating. Georgia opens there entire campus to free parking and tailgating at all parking sites on gameday. As I have attended first college and now been a season ticket holder for 14 years the opportunities to tailgate have become more and more slim and more and more regulated. Any bit of grass you can use is roped off or charged by UK to park in. You have limited hours. On and on. Now students you can go tailgate but nothing fun. Kumbaya around the campfire. Are we a Christian camp or a major university in the SEC? I hear all these lame excuses from the police, security, parking, traffic. It goes on and on. Just let it happen and it all takes care of itself. If you just let game day be then everyone becomes a neighbor with a common goal. Traffic takes care of itself, fights take care of themselves, etc. It becomes a community. I feel everyone at UK just wants to be lazy from Police, Administration to the grounds crew etc who would have to deal with what football should be from week to week. We have the lamest football environment of any school I have been to and we should have shame. Lots of it for being an SEC school. Right now we have no reason to claim that. Our football program is D1 at best and now everyone that can, has limited tailgating to the point that it does not exist. You can’t even use the parking passes you purchase. Where does the idiocracy on behalf of the police and administration cease?

    1. larryvaught

      great post kYWCAT. Hear folks complain all the time about game-day atmosphere at uK compared to other places and I agree

  14. Juan4UK

    Sounds like all Eli has done is shine a light on this set of UK shortcomings…haha, wow

  15. Lori Metcalf

    I’m a little late to this post, but I have to ask, where is it stated that drinking and loud music have to be part of a fun tailgating atmosphere? A poster above said he has loud music at his RV every game. That means everyone around him has it, too, whether they want it or not. I dread night games because that means people have that much more time to sit around and get bombed. If people were more responsible and courteous to those around them, that would improve the atmosphere immensely.

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