The SEC has issued a statement condemning Tennessee fans who threw trash on the sidelines of Neyland Stadium late in Saturday’s loss to No. 13 Ole Miss.
Volunteers fans in the crowd — welcoming former one-time coach Lane Kiffin back to Knoxville for the first time as a head coach — were angry at officials who ruled Tennessee did not reach the line to gain on fourth-and-24 late in the game. They subsequently threw trash on the sideline, not only pelting Kiffin and his team but also forcing the evacuation of Tennessee’s band, dance team and cheerleaders. That resulted in a 20-minute delay.
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Fans threw everything from water bottles, pizza boxes, beer bottles, a mustard bottle, golf balls and dip spit bottles onto the field.
It’s uncertain what penalties Tennessee will face for throwing trash onto the field, though it’s worth noting the conference levies $100,000 fines to teams whose teams storm the field.
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Despite Ole Miss taking the ball over, Tennessee managed to get the ball back in the final minute with enough time left to attempt a comeback attempt. The Volunteers faced their last play on the Ole Miss 21, but could only get to the 8-yard line after a Joe Milton III 13-yard scramble, ending the game at 31-26 in favor of the Rebels.
Following the game, Kiffin said he was “relieved,” not only to have gotten out of Neyland with a victory, but also to avoid getting hit by a golf ball. That wasn’t the last time he faced the wrath of Tennessee fans, though. As he entered the tunnels of Neyland Stadium, fans took one more opportunity to throw trash at him. He responded in kind by tossing his visor into the crowd.
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Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman also responded to the incident following Saturday’s game, saying she was “astonished” and “sickened” at fans’ behavior.
I am astonished and sickened by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of tonight’s game. Good sportsmanship must be part of who we are as Volunteers. Behavior that puts student athletes, coaches, visitors, and other fans at risk is not something we will tolerate.
— Donde Plowman (@DondePlowman) October 17, 2021