By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The wave of students entering the playing area at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night was anticipated and approved with a safety plan in place, Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said.
The SEC will fine Ole Miss $5,000 for a violation of the league’s “access to competition area” policy. A second violation could cost the school up to $25,000, a third up to $50,000.
Fans, mostly students from the south end zone, began jumping over guard rails to join the Ole Miss team on the field after the Rebels defeated rival Mississippi State, 41-24, reclaiming the Golden Egg trophy for the first time since 2008.
“We made the decision in the third quarter that should we continue with the way the game was going in the second half that we were not going to put up much of a fight and allow fans and students to come on the field, really just as a way to celebrate what this team has accomplished,” Bjork said.
‘Safe and secure’
Once that decision was made, the focus became the security of game officials and the MSU players, coaches and staff.
“We did have a line, a barrier of officers, security guards, and our staff to make sure they cleared the field in a safe and secure manner,” Bjork said.
Bjork has reviewed video of the celebration. He saw some negative interaction between Ole Miss fans and the MSU team but nothing that caused him alarm.
“There was some shoving and pushing, some verbal things going back and forth,” he said. “I think in a rivalry game some of that’s going to happen. We’re not aware of anything else at this point. If something comes up, we’ll address it accordingly.”