By LARRY VAUGHT
For the Kentucky fans who did get inside Assembly Hall to watch the Wildcats play Indiana last Saturday, the loss was not the worst part of the day. Instead, it was the treatment many received from Indiana fans.
Tuesday I shared the story of Megan Dills, a 1998 UK graduate who was knocked down after the game and tore ankle tendons that forced her to cancel a Playboy photo shoot this weekend because of the injury. Today I have a letter from a 1996 UK graduate who asked to remain anonymous sent to Indiana, Kentucky and NCAA officials about the treatment she and her husband received.
“I would like to inform you of my experience at the UK/IU game at Assembly Hall in Bloomington Indiana on December 10th 2011.Â Please understand I travel several times a year for away games and have experienced hostile environments from The University of Tennessee at Thompson Boling to the University of Connecticut at Madison Square Garden.Â However, I have never been treated in a way that had me scared for my safety and unsure how UK fans would be treated if we won.Â My seats were 30 rows up behind the UK bench.
On arrival at Assembly Hall, we wore black coats over our Blue shirts so no one noticed us.Â However, my husband opened his coat and immediately someone got in his face and hissed.Â We thought that was weird butÂ not that unusual for UK fans since we are used to being everyone’s Super Bowl.Â We walked up to our seats.Â The first thing we noticed was UK warming up on the floor and IU fans chanting “F**k UK.”Â When the lineups were announced the students turned their back to the floor and stuck their middle fingers up and said “F**k you” as they announced each UK player.Â I understand students will be students but I would think IU would see this language as unacceptable.Â
The game started and every time UK was fouled by IU a gentleman behind me would scream “F**k you” at the top of his lungs.Â I can not explain the anger I felt in this environment from the IU fans.Â We did not respond to the taunting and foul language directed at us and other UK fans.Â We wanted to enjoy the game but it was hard because if you clapped when UK scored you really were not certain if something would come flying at your head or not.Â When the shot was made for IU to win the game, we stood there for a second gathering our coats and, at this point, it got scary.Â A couple of middle-aged IU fans came to our seats and stuck their middle fingers up in our faces and screamed “Get out of our f**king house.”Â The hostility we felt was scary.Â It was not your normal we won ha-ha.Â It was pure hatred.Â My friend who was in the upper arena would not even go to the restroom after the game out of fear for his safety.Â We heard IU fans had talked about slitting throats and believed that was somewhat unrealistic but the anger we felt made us think twice.Â
Also, I was not a witness to the fans who were spit on in Assembly Hall but those comments were made by UK fans that were outside of Assembly Hall after the game.Â The fans that walked out of Assembly Hall without their blue covered up were screamed at and some IU fans would get in their faces and yell “you suck” and “F**k you.” Â Fortunately, we covered up our blue.Â We knew to do so from the experience at our seats.Â
This was the most hostile environment I have ever encountered and I am writing to you to request that you not renew the series with Indiana University.Â I understand next year the game will be at Rupp Arena and we need the home game.Â However, I am asking you not to renew it the following year when the series goes back to Bloomington.Â The environment there is not safe for our fans.Â
I did not see one UK fan retaliate to their hostility but I fear this may not be the case next time.Â I think most UK fans were surprised and taken off guard by their display of hostility this time but I am not sure what some UK fans may do next time if they are provoked like we were.Â Also, UK needs to send a message to the Indiana University Athletic Department that we will not stand for our fans being treated like this and they need to send a statement to their students and fans that this behavior is not acceptable.”
I wish I could say she might be embellishing. But she’s not. I never heard the f-bomb dropped as much as I did at this game. To be fair, some Indiana officials warned students to quit using the word, but that was about as effective asÂ me telling the rain to stop falling during a thunderstorm. Unless you were at the game, it’s hard to describe the animosity. I know I talked to the parent of one UK player who was stunned by the atmosphere inside the arena.
I’ve always been in favor of UK playing Indiana, but after Saturday this fan has a valid, valid point she made to UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart about dropping the series before something could happen like it did with the Cincinnati-Xavier game last weekend.