Greg Sankey Addresses Tennessee/Ole Miss Delay, Vol Fans, and Alcohol Policy

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    SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. Photo via Paul Finebaum (@Finebaum) on Twitter.

    During an appearance on the Paul Finebaum Show on Wednesday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey spoke about several topics involving the SEC and college athletics in general. One of the topics mentioned early on between Finebaum and Sankey revolved around the incident that took place during the fourth quarter of Tennessee’s game against Ole Miss

    “The situation in Knoxville was unique,” Sankey said. “I recognize that there are fans who were upset because when Tennessee played basketball at Ole Miss in 2019, after the game, there were items thrown on the court.”

    Following the Volunteers’ win over Ole Miss on the basketball court in February of 2019, Ole Miss fans showed their frustration by throwing trash onto the court after the contest. In videos of the incident, trash was seen sliding across the court and ending up near the Tennessee players. Jump forward a couple of years to when Tennessee and Ole Miss matched up again, except this time, on the gridiron. A delay, lasting just under 20 minutes, took place in the fourth quarter as Tennessee fans in certain portions of the stadium threw their garbage onto the field. The sideline was eventually deemed unsafe for the Ole Miss team after a golf ball was thrown at Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin.

    “We have not had, and I’m a few days away from my 19th year as a member of the SEC staff, games interrupted by fan behavior like that,” Sankey said on Wednesday. “That just has not happened. I greatly appreciate the leadership of Chancellor Plowman, of athletic director Danny White in addressing the issue, following up, and looking to learn how they can improve. But we also have a responsibility across the conference. A fine in that circumstance, I deemed appropriate. It was specified, after that incident in Oxford, that we would have the immediate imposition of fines. And, because we have alcohol introduced, I have the authority to remove the alcohol sales opportunity, which is defined in this league as a privilege for our members. We didn’t do that, but we reminded everyone that that possibility is there when we have misbehavior interrupt a game in the way it did that particular night.”

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    The SEC has addressed a punishment for Tennessee after Saturday’s events in the fourth quarter.

    After the incident occurred in Neyland Stadium, Tennessee was hit with penalties by the SEC. The four requirements that were forced upon Tennessee by the commissioner’s office were:

    • Be assessed a financial penalty of $250,000, which will be deducted from the University’s share of SEC revenue distribution.
    • Be required to use all available resources, including security, stadium, and television video, to identify individuals who threw objects onto the playing field or at the opposing team. All individuals identified as having been involved in disrupting the game shall be prohibited from attending Tennessee Athletics events for the remainder of the 2021-22 academic and athletic year.
    • Review and update its Athletics Department game management procedures and alcohol availability policies to prevent a recurrence of Saturday night’s disruption, which shall include an evaluation of agreed-upon SEC Sportsmanship, Game Management, and Alcohol policies to verify full compliance with existing standards.
    • Following completion of this review and prior to the University of Tennessee’s next home football game, the University shall provide a report to the Conference Office to summarize its efforts to identify and penalize offenders and its plan to enact policies to prevent future similar incidents while ensuring compliance with Conference standards.
    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.