In footage taken by News Channel 11 staff, fans began booing and throwing cups, bottles and other trash onto the edges of the field in the final minute of the game as the odds turned against the Vols.
UT administration were quick to denounce fan conduct, with UT chancellor Donde Plowman reaching out to University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce to apologize.
“Good sportsmanship must be part of who we are as Volunteers,” said Plowman in a tweet. “Behavior that puts student athletes, coaches, visitors and other fans at risk is not something we will tolerate.”
Alongside academic faculty, UT athletic director Danny White released a statement on the incident.
While I’m incredibly proud of our team’s effort on the field,” said White. “I’m disappointed that their relentless performance was overshadowed in the game’s closing moments by the actions of several fans whose actions did not represent the Volunteer Spirit or the true character of out university.”
At the conference level, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey released his own statement on the matter.
“We are accustomed to intense competition every week, but under no circumstances is it acceptable to endanger the contest participants and disrupt the game,” Sankey said. “We will review existing Conference policies and the Commissioner’s authority to impose penalties and communicate with the leadership at the University of Tennessee — and all of the SEC’s member universities — to make certain this situation is not repeated.”