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Caitlin Clark’s collision with court-storming fan prompts Big Ten explanation about protocol

Iowa star Caitlin Clark felt fine a day after a fan collided with her while storming the Ohio State court, her associate head coach said Monday, but fallout from the incident continued to unravel.

Clark, 22, spun to the ground after the fan ran into her following Ohio State’s upset win over No. 2 Iowa as other crowd members also rushed onto the hardwood.

After the game, Clark said she felt OK but was “blindsided” by the fan who hit her.

“Kind of scary, could’ve caused a pretty serious injury to me, and [it] knocked the wind out of me, but luckily my teammates kind of picked me up and got me off the court,” said Clark, who won national player of the year honors last season.

Clark, who initially appeared to be banged up after the collision, didn’t report any next-day issues, according to associate head coach Jan Jensen.

“When you have an athlete that hits the turf — but then you have arguably the highest-profile college athlete — this might spark the debate about what do we need to do with this,” Jansen told The Associated Press.

The Big Ten, which Iowa and Ohio State are part of, and the ACC do not automatically fine schools when their students storm a field or court in celebration, while the Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Big East do.

Instead, the Big Ten generally relies on its schools and on local law enforcement to determine appropriate protocol, Scott Markley, a communications VP for the conference, told The AP.

“We try not to be too heavy-handed on the policy of court-storming for a problem that doesn’t necessarily exist,” Markley said.

“Don’t want to unfairly financially hurt already cash-strapped athletic departments. … We’re always monitoring these things and discuss if we need to make adjustments in the interest of a safe environment.”

Iowa advanced to the national championship game last spring behind the heroics of Clark, who delivered the first-ever 40-point triple-double in an NCAA tournament during an Elite Eight win over Louisville. She followed that performance up by scoring 41 to help defeat previously undefeated South Carolina in the Final Four.

The 6-foot guard is averaging an NCAA-best 31.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.7 assists this season.

“[Ohio State’s athletic director] already came and apologized to me, so I really appreciate that,” Clark said after Sunday’s collision. “This is what comes with the territory. I’m sure they tried their best to do whatever they could. Obviously, it didn’t work, and that’s disappointing.”