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By David Pickle
The message in the "Don't Cross the Line" tape has stuck with the Mavericks student section.
A clever idea developed at Minnesota State Mankato will be expanded into a Division II-wide reminder on the importance of maintaining a positive game environment.
The end product is a floor decal featuring the expression “Don’t Cross the Line.” This summer, every Division II member institution and conference received two copies of the 50-foot-long, 4-inch-wide strips. The decals may be applied as desired, although the length corresponds with the baseline on a basketball court.
The decals were the brainchild of Minnesota State Mankato Athletics Director Kevin Buisman and Assistant AD Mike Powicki, who were seeking an alternative to unpopular TensaBarriers used to sequester the student section.
2007 – Division II hosts a game-environment hearing in Washington, D.C., bringing together interested parties to discuss how to improve the competition atmosphere at Division II events.
2008 – Division II presidents unanimously sign a pledge committing their institutions to maintaining a quality game environment at their athletics events.
2008 – DIICommunity.org is expanded to include a section on how to improve game environment.
2008 – Consultant Darren Treasure is hired to help educate the Division II membership on the importance of civil, comfortable and entertaining surroundings for athletics.
2009 – The first conference and institutional awards for game environment are presented.
2009 – Banners are provided to schools that complete a game-environment campus-assessment program.
2010 – Division II institutions are provided with a “Don’t Cross the Line” floor decal to remind fans of their role in promoting a suitable game environment.
The students and other fans believed the TensaBarriers were overkill, given the absence of any serious misbehavior on their part. Explanations that they were meant to prevent a problem rather than fix one provided little satisfaction, so Buisman and Powicki brainstormed and hit on the idea of a bright yellow decal – it evokes thoughts of crime-scene tape – with a prominent message of “Don’t Cross the Line.” Accompanying references to the NCAA Respect campaign and Division II’s game-environment initiative also were included in the Minnesota State Mankato version.
“We just felt it was a bit more positive approach,” Buisman said. “It didn’t put a physical barrier between our fans and the basketball floor, but it had a unique way of communicating expectations and the message. It was literally and figuratively ‘don’t cross the line,’ and we won’t have a problem. But if there is a problem, then we’re going back to the TensaBarrier.”
The idea was a hit locally and also with the Division II Management Council’s Identity Subcommittee, which saw it as an opportunity to provide members with an ongoing reminder about fan behavior at athletics events. After asking Buisman if it could use the concept division-wide and then using a bid process to confirm affordability, the subcommittee moved forward with the manufacture and distribution of 650 strips.
“We’re grateful to Kevin for sharing this approach with the membership,” said Identity Subcommittee chair Bob Fortosis, athletics director at Eckerd. “We want family-friendly game environments to be a distinguishing characteristic of Division II membership, and this will be an important tool for communicating that message.”
Members should have received the decals by the end of July.