The University of Alabama has left several students to reconsider the term “southern hospitality”. According to College Football Talk, twenty University of Alabama student groups (yes, twenty) will not be attending the Alabama vs. Tennessee football game Saturday night in Alabama due to a suspension. The transgression that earned this suspension: leaving a game early. Students whose tickets have been revoked were accused of leaving the Crimson Tide’s previous home game early due to a lopsided Crimson tide lead over Arkansas. Alabama head coach Nick Saban added fuel to the fire in a statement he made following the win over Arkansas, “In some kind of way, everybody that chooses to go to the game should stay there and support the team for the game…Maybe if you’re not interested in doing that, you should let someone else go who would really like to go because I have a lot of people who want to go.”.
Alabama is currently best team in college football so I am sure there is superior demand for tickets to see these young stars play, however, to go as far as suspending tuition-paying students for leaving a game early seems wrong. Furthermore, the article mentions that if these suspended students were to leave early a second time, they would have their tickets suspended for the remainder of the season. A number of red flags arise with this suspension: were students aware of and did they agreed that they could be suspended for leaving a game early? What rights do these students have when they attend games? Answering these questions might help lift the fog surrounding this controversial penalty and perhaps the University of Alabama’s student seating agreement will become clearer. What is clear however is the fact that University of Alabama policymakers are ready and willing to punish students (without warning) who do not stay until the final whistle of football games.
This suspension could unfortunately set the precedent for other NCAA colleges who host high profile football teams. We must ask ourselves, where does this end? Will security personnel be monitoring student attendance? Will there be a signal on the scoreboard that advises students when they may leave? University of Alabama students’ rights are being violated here and no one seems to notice.