Officials prepare for Final Four celebrations

Neil MacDonald

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Villanova Wildcats advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 2009. While the team prepares to face Oklahoma this Saturday, campus and local law enforcement officials are preparing to manage potential victory celebrations. Resident Assistants will be on duty beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday and will go off duty at 2:30 a.m. according to several people familiar with the situation. Public Safety and Radnor Police have met to develop a response to post-game celebrations.

On Tuesday afternoon, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D., sent an email to the University community commenting on several aspects of the Wildcats advancing to the Final Four. He acknowledged that the University is using this national spotlight to promote the University’s academic strengths and strong community. But Donohue also cautioned against excessive or dangerous celebration. “We are working closely with both the Radnor Township and Delaware County officials (police, fire and EMS) to provide extra security on campus,” Donohue wrote. “Please note that there may be road closures around campus following a victory in Saturday’s game, and postgame access to campus may be restricted. I encourage everyone, especially our students, to celebrate responsibly and represent our University and its values as your cheer the team to victory.”

Local reporting indicates that officials from Radnor Township and Delaware County have begun to develop a plan to ensure emergency services can reach campus in the event roadways are blocked by celebrating students. “Starting on the outside, there will be detours for trucks and cars, and parking restrictions to make sure fire and EMS can get through.” Radnor Township Police Lieutenant Chris Flanagan told CBS Philly. “We’re expecting multiple thousands to arrive on campus to celebrate and to be part of history.”

Images from the last time Villanova reached the Final Four show Lancaster Avenue completely obstructed by celebrating fans. On the evening of March 28, 2009, fans were literally crowd surfing along Lancaster at the intersection with Ithan Avenue. That was the first trip to the Final Four for Villanova since 1985, and now the Wildcats have done it again. Since most students were away from campus for the Easter recess during the most recent victory, campus and the neighborhood are bracing for what might result should Villanova head to the national championship game.

Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney wouldn’t comment on possible plans for a victory parade if the Wildcats bring home the national title. Citing superstition, Kenney said he’s rooting for Villanova but not jinxing it by any premature celebration planning.