Tennessee was hit with the largest fine in SEC history for what happened after its loss to Ole Miss. The Volunteers were fined $250,000 because of fans’ behavior at the end of the game – including one fan who rushed onto field and punched an official during a celebration by players.
Tennessee was fined $250,000 by the Southeastern Conference on Monday after supporters threw bottles and other garbage onto the field toward the conclusion of the Volunteers’ 31-26 loss to Ole Miss last Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
The game was paused for 20 minutes with 54 seconds left after spectators started throwing bottles, cans, and other projectiles towards the Ole Miss sideline, including a golf ball that struck Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin. Tennessee had just been stopped on fourth down by officials following a debatable area.
The Ole Miss players were shifted from the sideline to the center of the field, as did the Ole Miss cheerleaders. The Tennessee marching band was likewise relocated from its usual spot in the bleachers. Objects were hurled from both the lower and higher decks, particularly from the student areas.
In addition to the penalties, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey outlined measures for Tennessee to follow in accordance with the SEC’s sportsmanship, game management, and alcohol availability laws.
In a statement, Sankey stated, “The interruption of Saturday night’s game is reprehensible and must be replicated on any SEC institution.” “The steps taken today are in line with the control entrusted to the SEC office by the membership, which includes a cash penalty and a review of alcohol supply. We will take advantage of this occasion to remind each SEC member of the significance of maintaining a safe atmosphere, despite the high level of competitiveness that happens each week. We’ll also re-engage our membership in a review of the alcohol availability policy, with the goal of considering additional measures for the sale and management of alcohol while maintaining a safe environment for collegiate competition.”
According to the announcement, the SEC is not suspending the University of Tennessee’s alcohol sales rights “at this time,” but has the ability to do so if UT fails to satisfy all of the league’s conditions.
Among the needs are the following:
• Be obliged to identify those who hurled things into the playing field or at the other team using all available resources, including security, stadium, and broadcast footage. All people found to have been engaged in the game disruption will be barred from attending any Tennessee sports events for the duration of the academic and athletic year 2021-22.
• Review and update its athletics department’s game management procedures and alcohol availability policies to avoid a repeat of Saturday night’s chaos, which will include an assessment of agreed-upon SEC sportsmanship, game management, and alcohol policies to ensure full compliance with current standards.
• Following the conclusion of this investigation and prior to Tennessee’s next home football game, the university will submit a report to the league office summarizing its efforts to identify and punish offenders, as well as its plan to enact policies to prevent future similar incidents while maintaining conference standards.
According to early statistics, the UT Police Department detained 18 individuals and expelled 47 others from the game, according to WVLT News in Knoxville. A UT police spokeswoman said there was no current information on how many of the arrests were made by students, but one of those detained was a 54-year-old Georgia male.
According to Tisha Benton, a university representative, any students found guilty of tossing trash into the field on Saturday would be barred from attending future games.
Danny White, Tennessee’s athletic director, said he had been in contact with Sankey over the weekend. “The acts that led to the brief suspension of play were unacceptable,” White said in a statement after the game. “On numerous fronts, the actions of a tiny fraction of supporters have resulted in unfavorable outcomes. While I don’t feel such behavior is reflective of the whole Tennessee fan base, I appreciate the league’s need for action. The need of safety is vital.”
As trash continued to be hurled out of the stands, Sankey suggested during an appearance on “The Nation” syndicated radio program in Tennessee on Sunday night that halting the game was a possibility.
“It had been on my thoughts. I’ll say this: “According to Sankey. “In a few of communications, I made it obvious that I believed we may cease if order could not be restored. I wanted to be patient… and I appreciated the people’s patience in allowing play to restart. But, once again, under no circumstances should this happen.”
At his weekly press conference on Monday, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel expressed disappointment that an otherwise outstanding atmosphere at Neyland Stadium had been overshadowed by what transpired in the last minute of the game.
“I know the narrative is what occurred [at the conclusion of the game] for certain individuals,” Heupel stated. “Our administration has made it plain that this is not the Volunteer spirit we seek.” I’m in the same boat as you. There were just a few spectators who tossed things onto the field.
“But the passion and energy from our fan base, and I’ve played and coached in a lot of competitive venues, there was nothing greater than what transpired Saturday night.”