The SEC slapped Tennessee with a $250,000 fine on Monday, following the disruption of the game against Ole Miss on Saturday night. Tennessee fans were unhappy with a spot on a huge fourth day play late in the going, which came after a few other incidents in the game. The result was a boiling point moment that saw fans toss whatever they could find onto the field at Neyland Stadium.
The game was delayed for more than 20 minutes. Tennessee and Ole Miss eventually got back going, with the Volunteers eventually falling to the Rebels, 31-26.
“The disruption of Saturday night’s game is unacceptable and cannot be repeated on any SEC campus,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. “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. We will use this opportunity to reemphasize to each SEC member the importance of providing a safe environment even with the intensity of competition that occurs every week. We will also reengage our membership in further review of the alcohol availability policy to consider additional measures for the sale and management of alcohol while providing the appropriate environment for collegiate competition.”
Tennessee athletics director Danny White also released a statement.
“I was in communication with Commissioner Sankey throughout the weekend, and we discussed a variety of things that took place Saturday night,” White said. “As I stated after the game, the actions that led to the temporary stoppage of play were unacceptable. The conduct of a small percentage of fans has led to unfortunate consequences on multiple fronts. While I don’t believe that conduct is representative of the Tennessee fanbase as a whole, I understand this imperative action by the league. Safety is paramount. Some elements of what the league office has instructed were already in motion, as a review of in-venue video began this weekend. Internally—and in collaboration with our campus partners—we’ll continue to evaluate accountability measures and develop an action and education plan for future games.”
With that, hopefully we can begin to move forward.
We’re not going to continue to beat the dead horse here. Clint wrote a really good piece on Sunday, which you can find here. My simple take is that Tennessee fans had plenty to gripe about and found themselves in a perfect storm of emotion on Saturday night. However, nothing justifies the behavior we saw, and it’s extremely unfortunate that such an incredible scene will be remembered like this.
I’ll leave you with this — Josh Heupel highlighted the good from the game on Monday, saying it was the best environment that he had ever been, at least for the first 59 minutes.
Tennessee will move on and prepare for a road trip to Alabama on Saturday night. The next home game will come against Georgia November 13th.