This article appeared as part of the Nexus’ April Fools’ Day edition.
In a follow-up to the tortilla incident at the UCSB men’s basketball game against UC Riverside on Senior Night, one member of the Gaucho men’s water polo team was expelled from the university, while a member of the Event Staff received a medal of valor.
With 5:26 left on the clock in Santa Barbara’s final home game of the year on March 1, several tortillas were hurled onto the Thunderdome floor, prompting the officials to force the P.A. announcer to warn the crowd. Another delicious tortilla was tossed onto the court after the warning and senior dance major Brian Jackson, the leader of the university’s Event Staff, quickly sought out the culprit in the stands. Assistant Coach David Campbell raced across the hardwood to point out the criminal, but Jackson was already escorting the perpetrator out of the facility.
The final tortilla – which resulted in a technical foul on the Santa Barbara crowd and two Highlander free throws – flew from the hands of a men’s water polo player, who was then arrested outside of the Thunderdome and escorted to a maximum-security prison downtown. The athlete, whom the Nexus is not permitted to name, spent his entire Spring Break behind bars, only to learn upon his release that his scholarship had been revoked and he had been kicked out of UCSB.
“Its one thing to be a cheering fan and into the action on the court, but when the fans interrupt the game, they are asking for trouble,” a university spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There are so many drunk idiots at sporting events these days that they can be a threat to the athletes on the court. Imagine if a player had blown out his knee by slipping on one of those tortillas. How bad would the water polo player have felt then?”
For his part in resolving the situation, Jackson was presented the Caesar Uyesaka Medal of Valor and Courage, his first such honor. He was recognized for immediately finding the villain in the stands, despite the difficulty in picking out a single dissident in the packed student section. Jackson was able to pull the offender out of the crowd and place him in the hands of the police, while avoiding any further problems with the other members of the team who attempted to hinder his efforts.
Having worked for the Event Staff since his freshman year, the heroic effort was just one of Jackson’s many stellar accomplishments as the school’s leading student security officer for athletic events. When the UCSB men’s soccer team hosted San Diego State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2005, it was Jackson who tackled one of the several crazed Gaucho fans who rushed the field after UCSB’s victory, earning a reputation as a thuggish enforcer. B.J. has also become a master at retrieving foul balls during baseball and softball games, which is perhaps the most important duty for Event Staff members.
“Brian [Jackson] has been an exemplary member of our security force for several years and it’s about time that he is rewarded for his service,” UCSB Chief of Police Bob Calzone said. “I have never met anyone who is more adept at dealing with their drunk peers or who has had as much dedication and desire to succeed as Brian [Jackson]. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a highly successful rent-a-cop down the road.”
The future of the expelled water polo player remains unknown. The athlete is currently in the process of appealing the university’s decision, but interfering with the action on the court is explicitly forbidden in the UCSB code of conduct in section 3.23.10434. With the rules laid out so plainly, it looks like the former water polo player’s final moment as a Gaucho was as embarrassing as his team’s play in the pool.