Tennessee has been fined $250,000 for Saturday's incident that caused a 20-minute delay during the final game minute in the 31-26 loss to Ole Miss. Fans tossed debris -- which included everything from aluminum cans to a bottle of mustard -- on the field, causing players, coaches and even cheerleaders to scatter to avoid getting hit. Notably, Rebels coach Lane Kiffin was struck with a golf ball while talking to an official.
"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."
Fans, already frustrated with the game's officiating, became unruly after a fourth-and-24 pass from quarterback Hendon Hooker to tight end Jacob Warren was ruled just short of the first down with 54 seconds remaining. Review of the spot from SEC officials was unable to overturn the call on the field.
The fine will be deducted fromTennessee's share of the SEC revenue distribution. The school will also be required to review and update its game management procedures, along with alcohol availability policies, to ensure that subsequent issues don't happen in the future. The school will review all available security resources, including angles from the television broadcast, to identify individuals who threw objects on the field. Anybody who is found to have violated the rules will be banned from Tennessee athletic events for the remainder of the academic year.
The conference is not suspending Tennessee's ability to sell alcoholic beverages right now, but said that it reserves the right to do so in the future.
"I was in communication with Commissioner Sankey throughout the weekend, and we discussed a variety of things that took place Saturday night," said Vols atheltic director Danny White in a statement. "As I stated after the game, the actions that led to the temporary stoppage of play were unacceptable. The conduct of a small percentage of fans has led to unfortunate consequences on multiple fronts. While I don't believe that conduct is representative of the Tennessee fanbase as a whole, I understand this imperative action by the league. Safety is paramount.
"Some elements of what the league office has instructed were already in motion, as a review of in-venue video began this weekend. Internally—and in collaboration with our campus partners—we'll continue to evaluate accountability measures and develop an action and education plan for future games."
Tennessee's next home game is on Nov. 13 against No. 1 Georgia.