Andrew Joseph @AndyJ0seph
The Kansas student section has made up its mind -- it's cheering for Louisville. Clapped as the Cards came out.
Nicole Auerbach @nicoleauerbach
As thousands of students lined up waiting for tickets in a parking garage adjacent to the Mercedez-Benz Superdome, a “Let’s go Jayhawks” boomed through the garage. Right on cue, Louisville, Kentucky and Ohio State fans drowned out the chant with boos. But that was the calm part of Saturday.
The chaos began early in the morning, when students from all four universities lined up, hoping to get a floor seat to the two Final Four games. A metal barrier separated each student body, and everything was calm, until security guards instructed the students they weren’t supposed to be in the garage at all.
That’s when the panic broke out.
Students said they stampeded outside of the garage, hoping to keep their spot at the front of the line. Before things could settle down, the students were instructed to return to their original place inside the parking garage, creating the morning’s second mob.
Two Louisville students, senior Pat Hoagland and sophomore Grant McKenzie, said everything was orderly when they first arrived at the garage. But the relaxed nature of the line, quickly changed.
“We got here at 12:30 a.m. last night, and there was no one here,” Hoagland and McKenzie said. "As soon as we all got back outside, it was literally 2,800 students, running in one direction and then the other direction. It was like running of the bulls with drunk college students.”
Another Lousiville fan, who wished to remain anonymous, captured a video of a confrontation he had with a security guard for Festival and Event Staffing and Security Services Inc., or FESS, that turned ugly. The video was taken once the students were let back in the garage.
“I’m going to kick your f&&&&ing ass,” the guard said.
Once they were let back inside, the students whose schools are playing against each other began to chant in unison, in haste of the security team and NCAA, who turned the students’ morning into a nightmare.
The NCAA did hand out water bottles to every student lined up, which helped ease the students' frustrations.
“I saw a girl with a black eye,” Hoagland and McKenzie said. “A guy I know who goes to Louisville, his forehead split open.”
Two students, who made the drive from Lawrence, Kan., to New Orleans, junior Tanga Fastouski and senior Aaron Pearson, found themselves in the middle of the confusion.
Pearson lost his shoe while he was running in, and had to turn around and face the crowd of hurried students. He retracted his steps and said he was being hit like a series of dominoes.
“It was crazy, it was horrible,” Fastouski said.
The NCAA representatives who were in the parking garage did not comment on the situation. FESS did not answer phone calls made to the company either.
The scene reminded Kansas students of the camping scene for the first Ohio State game in Lawrence on December 10, 2011, when an ambulance was called to Allen Fieldhouse to help a girl who had passed out after waiting in line for nearly three hours in frigid temperatures.
“It was camping to a new extreme,” Fastouski said of Saturday’s incident.