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UT Chancellor: Police Reviewing Fan Behavior at Ole Miss Game

Paul Steinbach
Steve Dimatteo Rj4 Kv Edn7 Ta Unsplash

The University of Tennessee Police Department is reviewing video of the Vols' home football game Saturday night against Ole Miss to identify students who threw trash and at least one golf ball onto the field at Neyland Stadium.

As reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel, police are reviewing security camera video as well as SEC Network broadcast video.

“We are trying to identify people who threw things onto the field last night in order to hold them accountable,” UT chancellor Donde Plowman said in a statement to the News Sentinel. “Further, athletics is working with UTPD and the Division of Student Life to provide recommendations to me and [athletics director] Danny White related to preventing and deterring bad behavior in the stadium, particularly in our student section.”

A UT spokesperson told the News Sentinel that more security cameras may be added to Neyland Stadium and focused on the student section. Most of the trash — including water and soda bottles, beer cans, pizza boxes, vape pens, liquor bottles, hot dogs, a mustard bottle and a yellow golf ball that struck Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin — was thrown from the student section in the south end zone after Ole Miss won the game, 31-26, amid controversial officiating calls, including one that went against the Vols with 54 seconds remaining.

Ole Miss players and staff moved onto the field to avoid the debris, and even Tennessee's band and cheerleaders were displaced.

Students identified as having thrown trash on the field will go through the student conduct process and lose the ability to attend future games, the spokesperson said.

In the immediate wake of the chaos, Plowman said she was "astonished and sickened by the behavior."

On Sunday night, she released a statement that read, "There was a lot to celebrate in Neyland Stadium for the Ole Miss game. The atmosphere was electric. A sold-out crowd made a checkerboard that looked amazing, and our fans made Neyland loud. Our student-athletes worked hard to prepare for the game and left everything on the field. 

“Unfortunately, bad behavior by a few fans, starting in the student section, jeopardized people’s safety, and ruined the experience for everyone. We will not tolerate this behavior, and it is not representative of the majority of Vol fans. I appreciate the many Volunteers who tried to get them to stop. And I appreciate our law enforcement who worked to protect people on the field and in the stadium.

“I want our fans to be passionate in support of our student-athletes. That cannot mean resorting to bad behavior when things don’t go our way. We should create a safe, fun, and competitive environment in all our sports venues, for both teams, and we need our fans to help us do that.”

Fox News reported Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey's statement.

"The Conference has established expectations for behavior and sportsmanship, and the actions of fans at Saturday night’s game were unacceptable under any circumstances. We are accustomed to intense competition every week, but under no circumstances is it acceptable to endanger the contest participants and disrupt a game," Sankey said.

"We will review existing Conference policies and the Commissioner’s authority to impose penalties and communicate with the leadership at the University of Tennessee – and all of the SEC’s member universities – to make certain this situation is not repeated."

 

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