The name has been modified, but the mission remains unchanged at the University of Southern Mississippi’s National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4).
This past spring the official title was changed from the Center for Spectator Sports Security and Management to the current header after Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning board approved the recommendation. The suggestion for a name change came from the center’s national advisory board.
“Since we were the first to establish a program of this kind in the country, plus the fact that we remain the only center for sports security and safety, it just made sense for us to reflect that with a name change that promotes our national scope,” said NCS4 Director Lou Marciani.
The 25-member advisory board includes a broad spectrum of security experts, collegiate professors, business executives and professional sports security personnel.
Mark Moran, director of business development with Ingersoll-Rand Securities Technologies, serves as the advisory board’s chairman. He became sold on the center’s concept after meeting Marciani a few years ago at a securities summit.
“Lou had about six minutes on stage and I was just mesmerized by what he envisioned for this center. I just flipped over it,” said Moran. “I wanted to be involved right from the get-go.”
Moran called the name change part of the “natural evolution” of the center. “It shows the advancement the center has made over the past few years,” said Moran. “And I think the name change has already had some positive effects by helping increase the amount of contacts and affiliations with other agencies across the nation.”
Established in 2006, the NCS4 is the national leader in addressing potential threats and risks to safety and security at sporting events. The United States Department of Homeland Security has identified sports stadiums and arenas as potential targets of terrorism. Through research, education and innovative solutions, the NCS4 strives to enhance the level of preparedness at sporting venues nationwide.
Marciani’s vision from day one has been to see the center fulfill its potential as a valuable resource guide that demonstrates development of security infrastructure system and processes that will model solutions supporting multiple sports venue environments.
The center’s core commitments include the following:
• Produce cutting-edge sports security research.
• Provide internationally-recognized educational programs.
• Develop and deliver innovative resources and services to sports security professionals through annual conferences, e-newsletters, workshops and consulting.
• Create the nation’s epicenter for the development of technology and training programs.
• Integrate research, education and resource capabilities through a national laboratory environment.
Marciani credits the Southern Miss administration for its unwavering endorsement of the center’s mission. In turn, Southern Miss Provost Bob Lyman notes the significance of having a nationally recognized security training facility operating on the Hattiesburg campus.
“The research and training being conducted by those involved at the NCS4 fill an important void in collegiate sports security across the country today,” said Lyman. “We are proud to have a center of this magnitude here at Southern Miss and will remain supportive of its ongoing commitment to national safety.”
Much of the center’s funding comes from federal and state grants. The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security recently awarded two grants, totaling $160,000 to help with sports security supervisor training and assist in the development of essential competencies for a professional sports security director.
J.W. Ledbetter, director of the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, said the NCS4 represents the right idea at the right time for the right venue.
“With the global politics being what they are, addressing the challenge of protecting this venue is very timely,” he said. “Taking the design and physical enhancements for spectator sports security to the next level, and training the ushers, ticket takers, gate security and parking attendants establishes a synergy that could not be achieved by any one effort.”
The NCS4 also strives to integrate technology training and exercises through the efforts of a national laboratory, which will provide an environment for continuous testing, certification and evolution of key security technologies and processes in the spectator sports management domain.
Milt Ahlerich, vice president of security for the National Football League, also serves on the NCS4 advisory board. A 14-year veteran of security management for the NFL, Ahlerich said the work undertaken by the center should not be underestimated.
“There has been an enormous need out there for training and preparedness of this type outside the professional leagues,” he said. “I am so pleased and somewhat surprised by the enormous progress the NCS4 has made in a short amount of time in putting initiatives together.”
Ahlerich also emphasized the benefits professional organizations can glean from working in conjunction with the NCS4.
“When you think you know it all in this business, that’s when you’re in trouble,” he said. “Lou and his staff have been kind enough to allow our stadium operations personnel to attend workshops and seminars at no cost. And hopefully my experience at this level and involvement with the advisory board has helped the center’s cause.”
The NCS4 is the only sports security training facility of its kind in the United States. In an effort to more accurately reflect the center’s national implications and limitless potential, board members considered a name change to be imperative.
“This center sets the bar by which all others will be measured,” said Ledbetter. “USM is making history addressing a need that today is paramount.”
For more information about the national center visit www.NCS4.com or call 601-266-6183.
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.