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Stadium 'crush' prompts lasting safety changes

Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:03:23 PM CST   Updated On: Oct 31 2013 12:04:02 PM CDT
Badgers at Camp Randall by Phil Roeder

When the Badgers play football at Camp Randall Stadium, over 80,000 fans pack  the stadium, but 20 years ago the fan experience was shaken to the core.

On Oct. 30, 1993, the Badgers beat rival Michigan for the first time in 12 years, and what happened next changed life at Camp Randall forever.

At the end of the game, fans from the student section started charging the field to celebrate. But instead of everyone participating in the celebration, some people got hurt during the infamous "Camp Randall Crush."

More than 70 people were injured in the incident but no one died. Police, security staff and even players helped people trapped against the stadium fencing.

"Within a few minutes, I could sense something was wrong. Players were coming in, some crying uncontrollably," said Barry Alvarez, who was the Badgers head coach at the time.

Tom Kuplic was a sophomore at the time, and was crushed in the middle of hundreds of other students in Section P of the student section.

"You were looking down and you couldn’t see what was going on down there, but you saw people on the field. It was a pretty confusing space because you started to realize some people could carry themselves through the momentum and falling down," said Kuplic.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison added staircases in the student section, started enforcing assigned section seating and made longer isles between sections to avoid similar incidents in the future.

"That was a somber day and a lot of changes have been made to make sure that never happens again," said UW police spokesperson Marc Lovicott.

Lovicott said the real test of the additions was back in 2010 when the Badgers beat rival and then No. 1 team Ohio State, and students rushed the field again.

Officials said when students rushed the field in 2010, students used the staircases and police helped them reach the field safely.

"We are proud we have made the improvements that were necessary to make sure Camp Randall stays the safe place that it is today," said Lovicott.

Kuplic is glad history likely won’t repeat itself.

"I think the mindset of people storming the court or the field changed a little bit, and you were not like, 'Let's keep them from doing that by physically impeding them, but let’s make it as safe as possible,'" Kuplic said.

UW officials said they do not encourage students to rush the field, but they understand it can happen and believe it should happen in a safe way.

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