New OSU Program Aimed to Improve Fan Behavior


Columbus, OH - Ohio State University is putting money towards a program to encourage its followers to behave.

This, after rowdy fans face accusations of harassing visiting teams to rioting after football games.

The initiative is called "Best Fans in the Land," a play off the nickname for the Buckeyes marching band. The campaign includes newspaper and scoreboard ads, and e-mail messages to students, faculty and staff from coach Jim Tressel.

The push is intended to remind fans to be respectful, athletic director Gene Smith said. The athletic program could put as much as $30,000 into the effort.

"We're really only talking about 1 percent that we're trying to get to," he said.

Police arrested 17 people, including five charged with arson, after top-ranked Ohio State beat Texas 24-7 on Sept. 9. About 40 fires, started on couches, mattresses and trash bins, were set in student neighborhoods, police said.

After last year's match at Ohio State, school officials sent e-mails to Texas fans who complained about how they were treated while in Columbus. And victories in big games in previous years have been marred by disturbances, including an off-campus riot after the Buckeyes beat Michigan in November 2002.

The new program also is meant to encourage law-abiding fans to keep watch over troublemakers and alert authorities quickly if there are problems.

The initiative is an extension of the "Game Day Ambassador Program" started last fall by 14 student organizations. Students interacted with visiting fans at Ohio Stadium and gave them buttons printed with both teams' helmets.