KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As of Monday, 18 people were arrested and another 47 were ejected during Tennessee’s 31-26 loss against Ole Miss. While it’s not known the exact reason all 18 were taken into custody, it is known some were arrested in connection to throwing trash onto the field at Neyland Stadium.
WATE Legal Analyst Greg Isaacs weighs in on what it could look like as these fans face the law. “Just because it’s a sporting event, that doesn’t give you any immunity or latitude to disregard the law,” said Isaac.
He said there is a wide spectrum of potential charges these fans could be looking at. “When does throwing an empty water bottle become a simple case of littering or unsportsmanlike conduct? That should be handled with a sanction like you can’t come back to the game, give us your tickets for this year,” he said. “Versus a full water bottle that turns into a projectile, that becomes reckless endangerment or attempted assault.”
“If you throw something and it’s likely to cause injury, it could be a felony,” he added.
However, Isaacs said for misdemeanors there will be a hurdle. “For a person to be arrested for a misdemeanor, under Tennessee law, it has to be committed in an officer’s presence.”
No matter the level of a criminal charge, he said there could be long-lasting impacts. “If you have a conviction, it could be on your record, it can impact your employment, presently and for years to come.”
One UT fan and Host of ‘The Sports Source,’ John Pennington, said he felt there was so much good to be celebrated that is now being overshadowed. “What they did with hanging with a top 13 team in Ole Miss, taking them down to the wire,” Pennington began. “Fans were there, they rattled the Ole Miss quarterback in the first half, you had the checkered Neyland which looks gorgeous, UT has spent million on that fantastic light show, it should have been a night where you think ‘things are starting to go in the right direction.’”
Pennington said he hopes Vol Nation will stand up to the ones detracting from the progress UT is making. “Vol fans, the majority of them, the vast majority of them, who are great, I think would have to say enough is enough,” adding Pennington.
As for what the next game at Neyland will look like, Isaacs weighed in. “The next home game, I would envision, things are going to be a very different climate here at Neyland.”
Isaacs also predicted the Knox County Attorney General’s Office could get involved. Meanwhile, UTPD officers continue looking for those who took part in Saturday’s incident.
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