Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley released a statement Wednesday saying he will prepare a report for SEC Commissioner Mike Slive to explain what happened when hundreds of fans stormed the court following the Bulldogs' 76-62 upset of the Gators. It was the second time in four days that Georgia fans stormed the court following a men's basketball game.
"Despite some extenuating circumstances surrounding the issue, there
no question we can and will do a better job of avoiding these types of
problems in the future," Dooley's statement said.
Charles Bloom, an associate commissioner of the SEC, said the subject
will be a point of emphasis at the next meeting of league athletic
directors, which will take place at the SEC Tournament in Atlanta in
"That specific incident as well as basketball on-court security as a
whole," Bloom said.
Slive attended Tuesday night's game but left before the incident, Bloom
said. Slive has seen television footage.
When Georgia fans flooded the floor after the Bulldogs' 74-68 over
Kentucky on Saturday, it barely drew any notice. However, the reaction
of Foley and Donovan, and the allegation that Gator sophomore Matt Walsh
was punched by a Bulldog fan, made Tuesday's incident a hot topic.
Foley acknowledged Wednesday that he was very upset after the game but
denied a published report that he had an altercation with a Georgia fan.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Foley had to be
restrained by police and quoted Foley as saying he was coming to the aid
"None of that happened, totally false," Foley said. "I'm 51
I'm not going after anybody."
Foley's only intervention was to get an upset Walsh off the floor, he
"Matt Walsh got hit by a fan, Matt Walsh went to look for the guy,
I grabbed Matt Walsh and escorted him off the court," Foley said.
Foley said he was uncertain if Walsh was merely jostled by a Bulldogs
fan charging the court or if a fan targeted Walsh, but the player's
father, Mike Walsh, said he saw a Georgia fan throw a punch at his son.
"One of the fans came up and Matt got bumped and spun around and
another fan came up and took a swing at him," Mike Walsh said.
The blow hit Matt Walsh on the shoulder, his father said. Mike Walsh
added that Florida officials told him Wednesday afternoon that the
incident was caught on tape.
Walsh, who led the Gators with 28 points, was a target all night for
Georgia fans, some of whom shouted, "Matt, you s---, Matt, you s---,"
A representative of Florida's athletic department said Donovan
wouldn't speak to The Macon Telegraph on Wednesday, but the coach had some
harsh words to say before leaving Athens.
"Someone needs to do something here in Athens at the university. God
forbid somebody gets killed, somebody gets paralyzed or someone yells a
profanity and our kid hauls off and punches him, our kid's being sued,
our kid's a bad kid," Donovan told the Athens Banner-Herald on Tuesday
night. "Something's got to be done."
Donovan also told the Banner-Herald that he asked security officials
about the incident afterward and was told Georgia didn't hire enough
security to stop the onslaught of fans.
"Realizing the great emotions and passion that are stimulated during
the heat of competition, I do not think it would be appropriate for me
to respond to any post-game comments attributed to administrative
officials of schools with whom we compete," Dooley wrote in his
Georgia's public address announcer, David Johnston, made an
announcement with one minute remaining in Tuesday's game reminding the
crowd of the SEC policy that forbids fans on the court at any time. The
announcement drew boos, and moments later, the fans streaked past
security guards and police who were helpless to stop them.
"While we are all excited about the men's basketball team's great
victories against two of our biggest basketball rivals, there are
serious concerns regarding the students and fans storming the court in
celebration," Dooley's statement read. "Those concerns must be
in the spirit of safety and sportsmanship."
There is little the league can do at this point to penalize Georgia for
the fan behavior because there are no proscribed penalties for violation
of the SEC policy, Bloom said. However, he added, that is likely to
change in the wake of Tuesday's incident.
"I think it's a huge issue of this league," Foley said. "I
think it's a
huge issue nationally. Unless some people start taking it seriously,
it's going to continue until someone gets hurts."
On October 7, 2000, a 19-year-old Georgia student was seriously injured
when football fans stormed the the Sanford Stadium field after the
Bulldogs' snapped a nine-game losing streak against Tennessee. Along
with injuring Christine Yu, who made a full recovery, that incident
caused more than $75,000 worth of damage.
"It doesn't happen here," Foley said. "It doesn't happen in
and it doesn't happen in basketball. We're not going to have people
getting hurt here.
"This is not a Florida-Georgia issue. That is an unsafe environment.
is a problem at Georgia, but it's a problem lots of places."
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