Few incidents with crowd of 12,000

If Sports Information Director Dick Quinn’s thinly veiled exuberance is any indicator, Saturday’s Homecoming football game against Amherst was an unprecedented success. The game, following the ESPN “College GameDay” broadcast, drew 12,747 students, alumni and supporters, in addition to the 1.9 million viewers who tuned in to ESPN for the pre-game coverage. This year’s attendance fell just 924 short of the record set for the game on Nov. 11, 1989, which saw 13,671 attendees. The game was also broadcast to alumni at events in over 50 locations across the United States via the New England Sports Network’s syndicated coverage.

Though the game against archrival Amherst regularly draws large crowds, this year saw marked changes in procedure, attendance and excitement as news spread that “College GameDay” would be broadcasting its first-ever Div. III preview. “I can’t tell you the last time [such] a significant number of Williams students attended the Williams-Amherst game,” Quinn said, adding that Amherst sent five busloads of students. “They don’t usually do that.”

The game also saw more attention paid to the players than the traditional tailgating festivities. “It usually takes a while for the seats to fill in, but this year everyone was focused on the game,” Quinn said.

The flurry of attention surrounding ESPN’s broadcast began only a few days prior to the game. “I got 17 e-mails from alumni wanting to know if ESPN ‘GameDay’ was really coming to Williams,” Quinn said. “They didn’t believe it.”

This year’s Homecoming game presented new challenges, as College officials scrambled to make accommodations for additional fans, tighter security and the 70-person “GameDay” crew. “ESPN needed space and we needed space,” Quinn said. “But we knew how important this game was, and we managed to make it work.”

One noticeable change at this year’s game was a sharp increase in security. State police partnered with Security and the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) to cover an additional 30 posts starting Thursday at 4 p.m., and at ESPN’s request, 22 state police officers provided security for the stage, equipment and staff. WPD and state police joined efforts to prevent alcohol use at the game, and students who attempted to bring alcohol were asked to surrender it or leave.

“This was the fourth year in a row that the game was low key for public safety,” said Kyle Johnson, police chief of the WPD. He added that the crowd tailgating and watching the game on Weston Field was mostly peaceful, but that two College students were arrested in total – one for trespassing and the other for disorderly conduct and trespassing. “Both were afforded the opportunity to leave the field and not return during the event, but they chose to do otherwise,” he said.

Most students agreed that, despite some hiccups, the organization of Saturday’s Homecoming game festivities went well. “It got a little rowdy, but there was a lot of respect and in general things went smoothly,” said Leo Goldberg ’11. Other students echoed these sentiments. “The rivalry was huge. Everyone was a part of the game,” added Frank Bergold ’09.

For Quinn, the long hours spent planning for the weekend were well worth it. “In the end it pays off, because when that ball kicks off, everybody’s watching,” he said.

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