KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Eighteen people were arrested and 47 were ejected from Neyland Stadium after University of Tennessee fans pelted the field with trash during Ole Miss’ 31-26 win over the Volunteers on Saturday night, police confirmed to the Knoxville News Sentinel on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Southeastern Conference has fined Tennessee $250,000 for the fracas, which will be deducted from the university’s share of SEC revenue distribution, among a host of other penalties imposed, WBIR reported.
Ole Miss had just stopped the Volunteers on downs with 54 seconds remaining to preserve a 31-26 victory. Tennessee’s Jacob Warren came up short of the first-down marker on a fourth-and-24 play, and when a replay upheld the call, fans in the lower and upper decks of Neyland Stadium began to throw items onto the field, ESPN reported.
The game was delayed for 20 minutes until order could be restored. The Tennessee band and cheerleaders had to be evacuated, and several Ole Miss cheerleaders were also hit, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
A spokesperson with the University of Tennessee Police Department confirmed the arrest and ejection figures to the News Sentinel, noting that the count is preliminary while examination of video surveillance footage continues.
Meanwhile, UT Chancellor Donde Plowman told the newspaper that campus police are working to identify fans who threw trash on the field during the game and that violators will face disciplinary action, including the possibility of offending students being banned from attending future Tennessee games.
“The disruption of Saturday night’s game is unacceptable and cannot be repeated on any SEC campus,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a prepared statement announcing the punishment. “Today’s actions are consistent with the oversight assigned by the membership to the SEC office, including the financial penalty and review of alcohol availability.”
According to the SEC news release obtained by WBIR, the conference issued the following directives - in addition to the fine - with which Tennessee is expected to comply in accordance with the SEC’s sportsmanship, game management and alcohol availability policies:
- Be required to use all available resources, including security, stadium and television video, to identify individuals who threw objects onto the playing field or at the opposing team. All individuals identified as having been involved in disrupting the game shall be prohibited from attending Tennessee Athletics events for the remainder of the 2021-22 academic and athletic year.
- Review and update its Athletics Department game management procedures and alcohol availability policies to prevent a recurrence of Saturday night’s disruption, which shall include an evaluation of agreed-upon SEC Sportsmanship, Game Management and Alcohol policies to verify full compliance with existing standards.
- Following completion of this review and prior to the University of Tennessee’s next home football game, the university shall provide a report to the Conference Office to summarize its efforts to identify and penalize offenders and its plan to enact policies to prevent future similar incidents while ensuring compliance with Conference standards.
The conference also noted that while it reserved the right to suspend Tennessee’s alcohol sales privileges it has opted not to take that step at this time but will revisit the matter if the above requirements are not met, WBIR reported.
“If cans or plastic bottles are used as projectiles or otherwise cause game management issues, the institution is subject to an immediate fine and suspension of the alcohol sales privilege,” the SEC stated.
Meanwhile, a Tennessee spokesperson told the News Sentinel that an event management review will determine if more security cameras are warranted in Neyland Stadium, targeting the student section from which most of the trash was tossed Saturday night.
According to the newspaper, most of the debris tossed Saturday night originated from the student section at the south end zone and included 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 head coach Lane Kiffin, who coached at Tennessee in 2009 before leaving after one season.
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