BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (October 18, 2021) - The Southeastern Conference announced Monday the University of Tennessee will be assessed a financial penalty and must meet requirements set forth by the Commissioner following interruption of its October 16 football game with the University of Mississippi due to fans throwing debris on to the field.
The final minute of the Ole Miss-Tennessee football game was interrupted and delayed when some fans threw objects onto the playing field, interrupting the competitive opportunity for both teams, endangering contest participants and prompting relocation of the University of Tennessee marching band and members of cheerleading squad.
"The disruption of Saturday night's game is unacceptable and cannot be repeated on any SEC campus," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. "Today's actions are consistent with the oversight assigned by the membership to the SEC office, including the financial penalty and review of alcohol availability. We will use this opportunity to reemphasize to each SEC member the importance of providing a safe environment even with the intensity of competition that occurs every week. We will also reengage our membership in further review of the alcohol availability policy to consider additional measures for the sale and management of alcohol while providing the appropriate environment for collegiate competition."
Under the sportsmanship, game management and alcohol availability policies established by the Southeastern Conference, the University of Tennessee will:
- 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 on to 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.
The actions taken by the Conference are consistent with SEC Commissioner's Regulations related to the availability of alcoholic beverages at athletics events which states, "If cans or plastic bottles are used as projectiles or otherwise cause game management issues, the institution is subject to an immediate fine and suspension of the alcohol sales privilege."
The Conference is not suspending alcohol sales privileges for the University of Tennessee at this time but reserves the right to do so if other requirements outlined above are not met.