National Football League stadiums across the country will be host sites for sports event security training for more than 1,000 intercollegiate institutions next year.
The training workshops will be directed by the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management at The University of Southern Mississippi and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics with assistance from the Stadium Managers’ Association.
This announcement comes on the heels of an increasing national focus to deter terrorist activity, respond to natural disasters, manage crowd control and enhance security at all universities and college stadiums across the nation. Beginning in April 2009, personnel from National Collegiate Athletic Association institutions will train at the most sophisticated sports facilities the NFL has to offer.
Participants will complete scenario-based training exercises for sport event incidents, learn to effectively build multi-agency collaboration related to the safety of their stadiums, understand threats that pose a risk to spectator safety, and learn how to deliver proper risk assessments and recovery processes.
"This opportunity provides both a solid sport risk management curriculum and exposure to the National Football League’s Best Security Practices," said Dr. Lou Marciani, director of the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management at Southern Miss. "By the NFL hosting these important sport security workshops, their safety and security leadership is evident at both the professional and collegiate level."
Historical cases of sports disaster incidents will be analyzed for discussion and challenge university officials to think of ways to avert a variety of emergency scenarios, such as how to conduct thorough bomb sweeps and spot weapon parts hidden among innocent spectators.
"We are pleased to support the center," said Milt Ahlerich, the NFL's vice president of security. "While the center serves many sports on professional and collegiate levels, we are all focused on the same goal -- ensuring the safety of our fans. The need to support the security of these events is very real. The center will provide comprehensive training, and we look forward to sharing our best practices with personnel across the country."
The workshops are funded by a $3.5 million grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security. Top security officials from various backgrounds, including the United States Secret Service, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, were recruited to test and train with the curriculum.
"Enhancing safety and security at our collegiate venues is an important initiative for us," said Mike Cleary, NACDA executive director. "We are appreciative to the NFL, Southern Miss and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for their roles in helping educate athletics administrators across the country over the course of the next two years."
The Center for Spectator Sports Security Management at The University of Southern Mississippi was established in 2006 to provide an interdisciplinary environment to further increase sports security awareness; improve sport security policies and procedures; and enhance emergency response through evacuation, recovery operations and crowd management training.
Professionals who train with the center have access to real-life stadium evacuation scenario module through a $1 million computer simulation lab at the College of Science and Technology at Southern Miss. Universities that meet the center’s requirements of a developed multi-agency team that includes athletic facility administrators, campus police, Emergency Medical Services, fire/ HAZMAT and local jurisdiction emergency management directors qualify for the center's Sports Event Security Aware seal.
The center’s Sports Security and Safety Management Advisory Board is composed of representatives from the NFL, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, United States Tennis Association, National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Indy Racing League, National Hockey League, NACDA, NCAA, Stadium Managers Association, University of Texas at Tyler, United States Department of Homeland Security, Madden & Patton, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, HOK Sport, Weber Shandwick and Robinson & Cole LLP.
For more information on the Center for Spectator Sports Security Management, call 601.266.6183 or visit http://www.sporteventsecurity.com.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.