Under new president C.L. Max Nikias, who will be inaugurated tomorrow, and new athletic director Pat Haden, USC is going through a culture change. That's not a new concept. From the closed football practices, to the increase in staffing for the compliance department, the university is looking to take strides toward becoming an elite academic institution, and a 1970s football image detracts from that mission. It shouldn't in reality, but if the goal is to become the Stanford of the Southland, the fraternity football reputation of the olden years will likely be tossed by the wayside. Not that the on-the-field product will suffer, but the gameday atmosphere and other traditional drinking routines are going to go through some serious changes in the coming years.
Further testament to that idea, the Daily Trojan has announced that university officials will implement new gameday restrictions on alcohol, which specifically includes bans on loud music and drinking games, notably beer pong:
"What is driving this issue is this semester. We've had a record number of alcohol-related incidents and transports to hospitals," [Capt. David Carlisle of the Department of Public Safety] said. "We want people to be responsible."
One of the primary new regulations this semester, Carlisle said, is the prohibition of drinking games, including activities, such as beer pong and "beer jeopardy."
"The drinking games just lead to drinking too much and if you've got all day to drink, it could be a problem," said Todd Dickey, senior vice president of administration, who said evening games create increased opportunities for people to consume more alcohol, which leads to problems.
For those of you, who aren't on campus and live elsewhere, where campus related activity doesn't break its way into the mainstream press, here are a few things of note in regards to recently transpired events.
After the jump.
1.) Nobody plays beer jeopardy
Seriously, we don't.
2.) More importantly, this isn't the first alcohol "ban" under Nikias
On Aug. 31, The Row, home to the majority of the school's fraternity houses on 28th street, was barred from holding any form of social activities after 16 IFC chapters were cited for hosting unauthorized parties. Technically speaking, houses are required to register with the university and DPS, when holding any sort of gathering, but as with many things, such a technicality was often overlooked in the years prior. Not that 28th street was a ruckus 7-nights a week, but such a situation, wasn't exactly new to the university. What was new, however, was that the new administration shut down The Row for approximately three weeks.
In their defense, officials claimed they had no choice after eight students were taken to the hospital due to alcohol poisoning. Again, this wasn't the first time such a thing happened, though. What was different this time was A.) the information was leaked to the public, and B.) the university acted so swiftly.
Even in the lifting of the social ban, restrictions on parties have been tighter, and most events have been shut down at earlier dates, often at 12:30 a.m., as opposed to more customary times in the years prior, such as 1:30 a.m. and even 2:00 a.m.
But even with reasonable complaints from students, the ban was perfectly legitimate. Eight people sent to a medical center, is eight more than should ever happen. As chartered houses, fraternities don't have the right to host an infinite number of parties. That is reserved for the university.
3.) Logically, then, a Gameday ban was the next step
Being, a "party school," isn't exactly a reputation that goes hand-in-hand with being a top-notch academic institution. When you think of places, where binge drinking is en vogue, images of scantly clad girls and beer bongs are generally the first things that come to mind. Such a place is the anti-thesis of what Nikias hopes USC can and should be. He's unquestionably old school, a traditionalist and a nerd. As an engineer, his forte isn't drinking and high-fiving alumni after Matt Barkley touchdown passes. Not that he's radically opposed to either, but first and foremost, he's an academic, a man of thought.
Under his predecessor, Steve B. Sample, USC soared academically, climbing to a now 26th on the U.S. News & World Report's ranking of the top colleges. Nikias wants to protect Sample's legacy, which allowed USC to break free from the old mold as the school of "Second Choice" into a legitimate research institution.
A party school label jeopardizes that goal, and there isn't a more visible party scene than gamedays. The statements by DPS and USC officials in the report indicate that there's been an increase in alcohol related incidents on gameday. That's the first I've heard of such a circumstance. Nothing out there has provided any confirmation to the idea that there's been an increase in alcohol abuse. Maybe, there has been. Maybe, there hasn't been. I'm not sure, but regardless, the university is now using this an opportunity to put forth its agenda. And, they're more than entitled to do so.
4.) So, seriously, it's not the end of the world
Contrary to some reports appearing on WeAreSC.com, USC isn't banning alcohol on campus for gamedays. It's just drinking games, and in many ways, it remains to be seen how well that can even be enforced. Granted, beer pong may rest in peace, but from an outsider's perspective, it's hard to judge what is considered to be a drinking game in the first place. How well are they going to supervise games such as flip cup, and as far as I know, beer bongs haven't been banned.
No doubt, students are upset, and well, if they intended on having a few prior to kickoff, it does put a little damper on the festivities. But if people want to get drunk in the hours before gametime, there are plenty of ways for it to happen.
From the university's perspective, this is entirely a P.R. move. Binge drinking is a problem at most places, and in order for 'SC to appear more civil than most institutions, it's attempting to remove the visible signs of collegiate drinking - the fraternity scene and beer pong.
But want a certifiable way to decrease hospital transports? Ban hard liquor, and beer bongs. Not that I'm recommending either option, I'm not, but if Nikias and company aspire to keep people's livers in check, it doesn't make much sense to permit beer bongs as opposed to beer pong, which remains far more safe than such funnels.
It'll be interesting to see what happens in all of this, because if you're of the state of mind where alcohol and USC football are one of the same, then the coming years could become rather frightening.
Follow Joey on Twitter @Joey_Kaufman