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The Roanoke Times | File 2011
Officers assigned for security for coach Frank Beamer are members of the Virginia Tech police, Capt. Vince Houston (left) said. The athletic department pays the Virginia Tech Police Department to provide security at football and basketball games.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Q. Whenever I watch a major college football game on TV, I always see at least one burly state trooper hovering around the coach following the game. (This does not seem to apply to smaller colleges, although their games usually aren’t televised, either.) Please tell me that my tax dollars aren’t being spent on security for these “million dollar babies.” Conversely, if these state troopers are moonlighting as private security guards, then why are they wearing their trooper uniforms (which I assume are provided with tax dollars)? If they are moonlighting, then why aren’t they wearing civilian clothes or contract security guard uniforms?
Lane Hash, Moneta
A: I can’t answer for all major colleges, but I did ask the one located in our coverage area, and I hope the answer puts you at ease. According to Vince Houston, operations captain with the Virginia Tech police, the officers assigned for security for coach Frank Beamer are members of his department. Houston travels as team security for away games as well.
As for the uniforms, there’s just something about those outfits, with their starched shirts, shiny shoes, and wide brimmed hats, that commands respect. The uniforms alone might be enough to prevent the storming of the field after a hard fought victory over Western Carolina, this year’s home opener cupcake.
(On a side note: in his pre-game comments, do look for coach Frank Beamer to talk up the WCU Catamounts as “a tough bunch of characters who might just be better” than the Alabama Crimson Tide team the Hokies will have faced in Atlanta the week before.)
Who pays? Lisa Rudd, associate director of athletics for financial affairs at Virginia Tech, says: “The athletic department pays the Virginia Tech Police Department to provide security at all football and basketball games at a level they deem sufficient. The VT Police Department subcontracts with outside agencies, including the state police, sheriff offices, etc., for additional coverage at football games and also assigns all duties for game day, including on-field security for coach Beamer.”
Game day security can include officers from a variety of localities and the state, as well as nearby emergency medical teams.
Because you are most concerned about the use of tax dollars, I asked about that, too. Rudd said, “This is a standard budgeted game day operations expense for the athletic department which is funded by ticket revenue. I don’t normally say any one revenue source covers a specific expense because that’s not how our process works, but in this case, it’s so directly related that it makes sense to do so.”
When you think of the fact that VT football games represent the largest regular gathering of people anywhere in our part of the state — and the need to keep upwards of 60,000 people safe, including the coaches — the presence of so many police, sheriff’s deputies, and emergency medical personnel probably makes sense, and the idea that these expenses are borne by ticket buyers does too.
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