Crowd control

Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton released the following statement Monday in response to Saturday's 80-76 win over Florida and the ensuing on-court celebration:

"It was a great atmosphere at Thompson-Boling Arena for the Florida game. We appreciate the fans' enthusiasm and support. However for future games, we hope our fans will continue to support our teams with great passion and energy but will celebrate victories in the stands and not on the floor.

"Our game management staff and university officials previously had discussed and had in place several security measures designed to ensure safety."

The Southeastern Conference requires member schools to prevent fans from rushing the court at their home games. Last year, the SEC implemented a rule regulating on-court and on-field celebrations for football and men's and women's basketball. The institutional fines for such instances, at the discretion of the commissioner, is $5,000 for the first offense, up to $25,000 for the second and up to $50,000 for third and subsequent offenses.

Hamilton added that UT has responded to a request by the SEC office regarding the incident.

(Below is the letter sent by Mike Hamilton in response to a request from the Southeastern Conference office.)

January 23, 2006

Commissioner Mike Slive

Southeastern Conference

2201 Richard Arrington Boulevard North

Birmingham, AL 35203-1103

Dear Commissioner Slive:

In response to Brad Davis' questions regarding Saturday night?s post-game celebration in Knoxville, I offer the following information:

In anticipation of the first sellout in men's basketball in a number of years, a large student turnout and the Tennessee-Florida rivalry and its local implications, a security planning meeting was held for the event. Attending the meeting were the Vice-President for Operations, Athletic Director, Event Management Staff and University Police.

After numerous meetings with University leadership and security personnel, the following measures were implemented for Saturday's game versus Florida:

Announcements were made as part of standard procedure regarding SEC rules and court access. Ushers and additional police were stationed to prohibit students seated in the upper deck from accessing the lower seating area. University police were positioned in the aisles of the student section to prevent downward flow at the conclusion of the game. Eight to ten officers were located in each corner of the floor to insure the safe exit of players, coaches, staff and officials. In addition to the planned police presence, 10 additional officers were dispatched to the front of the student sections.

In the event the students attempted to take the floor at the conclusion of the game, the safety of the fans would ultimately be paramount. No action was taken against the students taking the floor in regards to disciplinary measures. The crowd was controlled by security and ultimately left peacefully with no injuries occurring.

Proactively, it is our plan to involve Coach Pearl in a campaign to educate the students of the danger to the teams, officials and themselves along with the possible severe penalties involved with similar conduct in the future.

Commissioner Mike Slive

January 23, 2006

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Please let me know if you have further questions.

Sincerely,

Mike Hamilton

Director of Athletics

University of Tennessee


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