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Play between Tennessee and Ole Miss halted as fans throw debris on Neyland Stadium field

  • October 17, 2021

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey says the league will review the “unacceptable” scene that unfolded during the closing minutes at Neyland Stadium on Saturday night amid Tennessee’s 31-26 loss to No. 14 Ole Miss and consider imposing penalties.

Tennessee fans objected to referees ruling that the Vols’ fourth-down attempt late in the fourth quarter came up a yard short of a first down, resulting in a turnover on downs. Fans littered the field with debris in protest.

Water bottles and beer cans were chucked onto the field. A fan threw a golf ball at Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, who pocketed it. Even a bottle of mustard wound up on the field.

Tennessee’s cheerleaders, spirit squad and band exited the scene and sought cover amid the chaos. 

“The Conference has established expectations for behavior and sportsmanship, and the actions of fans at Saturday night’s game were unacceptable under any circumstances,” Sankey said in a statement. 

“We are accustomed to intense competition every week, but under no circumstances is it acceptable to endanger the contest participants and disrupt a game. 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.”

UT-Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman tweeted after the game that she was “astonished and sickened by the behavior of some Vol fans at the end of tonight’s 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,” Plowman wrote.

The game marked Tennessee’s first sellout since the 2017 season.

Kiffin coached Tennessee for one season in 2009 before departing in January 2010 for the same job at Southern Cal. He remains one of the most polarizing figures in Tennessee.

Kiffin had returned to Neyland Stadium twice previously as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, but Saturday marked his first return as an opposing head coach.

As Kiffin exited the field flanked by security, more objects were thrown in his direction, and he caught a water bottle out of the air with one hand.

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