Byrne chastises unruly MSU fans

February 18, 2010 9:45:00 AM

David Miller -

 

STARKVILLE -- What could have been a spectacular night, with a national television audience watching the Mississippi State men''s basketball team bid for an upset of No. 2 Kentucky, turned ugly Tuesday. 

 

Mississippi State''s image suffered a black eye when unruly fans threw bottles of water onto the court at Humphrey Coliseum after Kentucky rallied to beat the Bulldogs 81-75 in overtime. 

 

Mississippi State Director of Athletics Greg Byrne isn''t happy about it. 

 

Neither is university president Dr. Mark Keenum. 

 

Byrne and Keenum addressed MSU students and fans through Byrne''s weekly "Thursday with Greg Byrne" column about the incidents that took place during and the events leading up to the ESPN-televised game. 

 

Objecting to fouls that were called during the game, some MSU fans their disgust by throwing objects onto the court. 

 

Then, there was the incident of Kentucky forward DeMarcus Cousins receiving harassing phone calls and text messages from MSU students and fans after the freshman''s cell phone number was made public. 

 

Against Ole Miss last week, there was a fracas in the stands that resulted in several Rebels fans being pelted with drinks while trying to escape to the concourse. 

 

Byrne and Keenum, along with student body president Blake Jeter, chastised the individuals who "embarrassed" the university on Tuesday night. 

 

"It is our intent to always act with class," Byrne said in the announcement. "In the end, a great game between two great institutions and their basketball teams was ruined by a handful of individuals. Our Bulldogs, playing short-handed, competed at the highest level last night and it is unfortunate that our attention can''t be focused on that fact." 

 

The Southeastern Conference will not take action against MSU for the incidents, stating, "The SEC accepts Mississippi State''s plan of actions in its response to the incidents from last night" in an email from league media relations chief Charles Bloom. 

 

Exactly what the plan of action will be remains to be seen, though Keenum offered his full support to Byrne''s measures to prevent vandalism at games. 

 

"I have directed Athletic Director Greg Byrne to investigate the matter fully and to review security procedures to prevent this from ever happening again in Humphrey Coliseum," Keenum said. "I have called University of Kentucky President Dr. Lee Todd to offer an official apology to the university, its basketball team and fans for this unfortunate incident." 

 

Bloom said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury will not be punished for his post-game comments regarding the officiating of Tuesday''s game. 

 

Stansbury walked a fine-line in his take on the calls. 

 

"I thought it was a goal-tend call," Stansbury said of a Romero Osby shot that turned into a Kentucky fast-break basket with two minutes left in regulation. "Don''t get it. That''s the way it is." 

 

The MSU coach added in response to a reporter''s follow-up question about the officiating, "Go on and belabor [the officials]. I know you want me to say something. Go on and belabor them huh? Will you pay my fine? You pay half of it (and) we''ll belabor the heck out of them." 

 

MSU men''s basketball sports information director Gregg Ellis notified the media Wednesday that a request had been made to Kentucky officials to get the phone numbers of the individuals who called and sent texts to Cousins and that if any of the numbers belonged to MSU students they would be referred to the dean of students. 

 

Kentucky Associate Athletic Director DeWayne Peevy acknowledged the school had been contacted "about the possibility of retrieving the numbers associated with derogatory text messages from DeMarcus'' cell phone. Unfortunately, the text messages were deleted." 

 

Byrne has urged fans who "saw an individual throw debris on the court to come forward. Please contact me directly at byrne@athletics.msstate.edu." 

 

The Bulldogs return to the court Saturday at LSU.