Tennessee fell to Ole Miss on Saturday night in Neyland Stadium; however, the final score was not the final story. Instead, many were left talking about the 18-minute delay at the end of the fourth quarter.
Chaos quickly followed the referee’s announcement of the upheld decision that took the ball out of Tennessee’s hands in the final few minutes.
Pom-pom shakers were the first to be thrown onto the field in mass from the crowd, mainly from the student section. However, as more and more shakers were being thrown, the items also began to escalate. Soon to follow were Dasani water bottles, crushed beer cans, and pizza boxes, among other things. Additionally, due to the collective items thrown on the field, safety measures had to be put into place for the Rebels’ team. For example, once a golf ball was thrown at Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin, the entire Ole Miss sideline moved about 10 yards away from the crowd and onto the field.
Meanwhile, as this was unfolding, two of Tennessee’s student organizations present at the game had to leave the area for safety. The Tennessee spirit squad and the Tennessee band were moved from the field and stands, respectively, to avoid any thrown items.
After just over 15 minutes of a delay to clean up the field and sort out the situation, the play was resumed. Tennessee students who were previously moved backward and away from the field soon rushed back to the front, ready for the game’s final minute.
Following the contest, Tennessee Director of Athletics Danny White and Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman released statements on Twitter regarding the incident.
— Danny White (@AD_DannyWhite) October 17, 2021
“I am astonished and sickened by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of tonight’s game,” Chancellor Plowman said on Twitter after the game. “Good sportsmanship must be part of who we are as Volunteers. Behavior that puts student-athletes, visitors, and other fans at risk is not something we will tolerate. I will be calling Chancellor Boyce in the morning to offer my personal apology on behalf of the University of Tennessee and discuss what we can do to make this right. Neyland Stadium has always been a place for families, and we will keep it that way.”
Additionally, Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel also began his press conference by speaking about it.
“First, I just want to acknowledge for the few fans, what transpired at the end and disappointed on how the game ended as things were being thrown from the crowd, but I know that’s very few of our crowd members,” Heupel said during his press conference. “For most of the football games, that was an unbelievable atmosphere to see Vol Nation show out the way they did. From the Vol Walk to the stadium, to the atmosphere inside of the stadium, I thought we’re awesome. Those were two good football teams who played hard tonight. Unfortunately, we got the short end of the stick.”
As of Sunday morning, there have been no consequences or penalties that have been handed down to Tennessee, yet. However, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey did release a statement on Twitter after the game, saying those things were being discussed within the SEC.
“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,” Sankey said via a statement on Twitter.