Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was disappointed after the Gators basketball team suffered its first loss of the season at Tennessee on Saturday night, but he was even more upset by what happened after the game at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Fans stormed the court after the Vols’ 80-76 victory, an action that violates the Southeastern Conference’s sportsmanship policy. Foley is upset because he says Tennessee officials did nothing to prevent fans from leaving their seats, even though they were anticipating such a possibility.
“The comment was made [before the game by a member of UT’s game-day operations crew] that if they had won that night, they felt the students were coming and there’s nothing they could do about it,” Foley said.
“In my opinion, it should have been handled better. Before the game starts, if you have an idea that’s going to happen and there’s nothing you do about it, it makes you wonder how much planning went into it.”
SEC rules state that each school is responsible for implementing procedures to ensure that fans do not enter the playing field or basketball court. Schools are subject to fines of $5,000 for the first time fans enter the playing area, up to $25,000 for the second offense, and up to $50,000 for any subsequent offense.
“It seems to me that the league has made a commitment to it, and everybody needs to make the same commitment,” said Foley, who said he’s not making an issue of this because of the loss. “I know it’s one at the University of Florida. I know it’s done around the league.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan said he and the players were not threatened in any way by the fans storming the court Saturday — unlike two seasons ago at Georgia, when Bulldogs fans stormed the court and Matt Walsh was allegedly punched.
Memphis freshman C Kareem Cooper might not be playing for the Tigers against UAB this Thursday night ; Cooper was nabbed in a weed bust yesterday, and is also accused of possessing a pack of Swisher Sweets, presumably not part of John Calipari’s recommended training table.