The University of Tennessee has banned 16 students and nine other fans from all athletic events for throwing objects onto Neyland Field during the Volunteers' loss to Ole Miss earlier this month, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
The bans reportedly extend though the next spring season. The school itself has already received its punishment for the incident, having been fined $250,000 by the SEC.
The incident in question occurred two weekends ago against a Rebels team coached by Lane Kiffin, not exactly a popular figure in Knoxville. Fans became incensed after officials ruled tight end Jacob Warren short on a fourth-and-24 play late in the fourth quarter. The ruling gave Ole Miss the ball with 54 seconds left, leading to a 31-26 win.
Once the call was reviewed and upheld, many fans started hurling objects like water bottles. One even hit Kiffin with a golf ball. The uproar halted the game for several minutes, with Ole Miss players moving from the sideline to the field to avoid the flying trash. Tennessee's cheerleaders and band also had to take cover:
Tennessee's cheerleaders leaving the field to avoid getting pelted with objects. pic.twitter.com/kkPoUCo3p3
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) October 17, 2021
The whole episode was a low point for a program that has been no stranger to embarrassment over the past decade and beyond.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey called for the Volunteers to use all available video to identify fans responsible and to review the school's gameday procedures to avoid a similar incident. In a letter to Sankey, Tennessee athletic director Danny White promised the following changes, effective immediately, according to the News Sentinel:
Prohibit student guest tickets for the Nov. 13 game versus Georgia.
Increase police and security staffers in the student section.
Require students who request tickets to agree to the SEC and UT fan codes of conduct.
Remove bottle caps at certain vending booths.
Add "enhanced” metal detectors.
Add more signs and PA announcements warning against misconduct.
If students throw trash at the Nov. 13 game, they will be barred from athletic events.
Additionally, Tennessee is considering adding more video cameras, more gameday staff and reconfiguring student entrance procedures for the future. Notably, banning alcohol sales does not appear to be on the table.
Those changes figure to get a stress test during Tennessee's next home game, a Nov. 13 matchup against No. 1 Georgia.