Trash at Ole Miss Game (staff report)

A mixture of beer cans, water bottles, pizza boxes and other miscellaneous items were thrown on the field after a controversial call late in the 4th quarter during the game against Ole Miss. Neyland Stadium on Oct. 16, 2021.

In a letter addressed to Chancellor Donde Plowman and Athletic Director Danny White on Oct. 25, Deputy Athletics Director Ryan Alpert, UT Police Chief Troy Lane and Vice Chancellor for Student Life Frank Cuevas announced an action plan in response to the student misconduct that led to a delay at the Oct. 16 home football game against Ole Miss.

The immediate action plan, which the representatives of investigating departments said was in line with the UT and SEC Code of Conduct, includes the banning of all students found responsible for throwing trash onto the football field from all Tennessee Athletics events for the 2021-2022 athletic and academic year.

So far, the Office of Student Conduct has received 16 allegations against identifiable students who were involved in throwing objects onto the field. In addition, nine non-student attendees involved in the misconduct have been identified and will be alerted that they are barred from attending Tennessee Athletics events for the remainder of the year.

But the consequences for the chaos at the Ole Miss game, which resulted in a $250,000 fine from the SEC, are not only for attendees who are found to have been responsible for the misconduct. The letter announced that there will be no student guest tickets for the Nov. 13 home football game against Georgia.

The letter also announced that there will be additional security personnel posted in the student section of Neyland Stadium, additional metal detectors at student gates and additional stadium signage and messaging concerning sportsmanship at games. All students requesting and purchasing tickets will be required to commit to following the UT and SEC Fan Code of Conduct.

“All parties share the belief that safety is paramount at every campus event,” the letter read. “These parties also share a strong commitment to exercising every reasonable measure to ensure that good sportsmanship and civility are thematic imperatives at Tennessee Athletic home competitions.”

Alpert, Lane and Cuevas made suggestions for developing a general admissions seating process for student seating and for reevaluating camera systems and staffing procedures at future games.

After an extensive review of the alcohol service at the Oct. 16 game, investigating officials found that the game day service was in keeping with the SEC’s Game Management Policy on Alcohol and UT policy and that no charges are necessary at this time.

In a subsequent letter addressed to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey on Oct. 29, Athletics Director Danny White expressed support for the action plan. White said that Sankey’s directive towards prohibiting those involved in misconduct from athletics events for the year had been met.

“While we have been clear in expressing that the conduct of several in attendance on Oct. 16 was unacceptable, Chancellor Plowman and I also maintain that such disruptive behavior does not represent our fanbase as a whole,” White said. “We believe the Southeastern Conference standard of sportsmanship aligns with our university's Volunteer Values, and we are confident that the recommendations outlined in our action plan will effectively aid in the prevention of future incidents.”

Ongoing efforts are being made by Student Conduct, UTPD, Student Life and Tennessee Athletics to identify individuals responsible for the misconduct. 

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