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Young alcohol ban at SOU games has rich tradition

When the Southern Oregon University football team opens — its season Saturday afternoon at Raider Stadium, everything will be set — for another fall of small-college football in Ashland. The field has been — reseeded, the team has been training together for weeks and fans should — fill the stadium decked out in red and black, ready for some football. —

The one element that will not be a part of the Southern-Si — Tanka University-Huron match-up is alcohol.

"It's been a policy," Southern Oregon University Athletic — Director Phil Pifer said. "We don't serve alcohol, not even at tailgate — parties."

According to Section — of Southern Oregon's alcohol and — drug policy, any person who engages in "possession, consumption, or furnishing — of alcoholic beverages on University-owned or controlled property or at — University-sponsored or supervised functions, unless authorized by the — president" will be subject to school sanctions.

What that translates into is a long history of sobriety — at football games. Alcoholic beverages have never been sold at games, — nor are fans allowed to bring their own drinks inside.

"I think it's the mission the university wants to pass — on to students," Pifer said. "I think that's the crux."

However, the athletic department at SOU could benefit — from the sale of alcohol at games.

"It's unfortunate in the fact that it (furnishing alcohol — at athletic events) would obviously enhance pregame functions and boost — revenue," Pifer said. "That has been a conversation, but it's the preference — of the university leadership that alcohol not be served."

Last year, the 1983 football team reunion had to be relocated — to Omar's when university regulations denied former players and alumni — access to a school-owned parking lot for their tailgate party. The group — had to choose between campus property and sharing a couple of drinks before — the game - they elected to meet at Omar's instead of fight school policy. —

Other campus functions that include alcoholic beverages, — such as the Jefferson Public Radio annual wine tasting and the President's — Ball, now take place off-campus where university regulations are more — lax.

An interesting twist

Although the athletic department has pushed the question — of alcohol use at sporting events, the issue goes beyond campus policies. — As a member of the NAIA, a national athletic association, Southern Oregon — cannot distribute alcoholic beverages at athletic events.

Article 1, Section O of the NAIA by-laws includes a provision — stating "alcoholic beverages in any form shall not be allowed to be sold, — disbursed or brought into the public area of any event." The regulation — effectively stifles any attempt to ever furnish alcohol to fans at football — games, or any other SOU athletic function. The university would have to — appeal to the national governing body for permission, but most of the — 360 colleges and universities affiliated with the NAIA just choose to — keep their events dry.

"If it were something we were allowed to do, I would probably — try to find a way to do it safely and monitor it," Pifer said.

University administrators was not available for comment.