Missouri Southern State University is reviewing what it characterized as "inappropriate behavior" exhibited during Saturday’s homecoming game between Southern and the University of Central Missouri at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.
The review was announced Monday in a statement released by President Alan Marble.
In the statement, Marble said the university over the weekend was made aware of remarks by student spectators who were seated on the east side of the stadium, behind the visiting team’s sideline.
“The University finds the behavior described by our guests as inappropriate and unacceptable and we offer our sincere apology to the fans, coaching staff and student athletes of the University of Central Missouri,” Marble’s statement read. “The incident is under review by the university and has already been discussed with student advisory groups and staff in intercollegiate athletics and student affairs. Missouri Southern firmly believes the actions of its employees, students and fans should represent the university’s values. It is the university’s intent to use Saturday’s incident as a learning experience for all involved and to move in a positive direction both for the remainder of the football season and beyond.”
On Sunday, a fan who said she was seated directly behind the MSSU student section with her family on Saturday gave an account of the incident via a public post on Facebook. The post was shared more than 200 times by Monday night.
“We noticed a large portion of seats had been sectioned off in front of us (on the visitor side) and didn’t think anything of it,” the fan’s post read. “In fact, when that section started filling up with Southern students, I thought it was kind of weird, seeing as the home side of the stadium is significantly larger, but thought it was cool nonetheless that students were coming out to cheer on their team.”
But then some of the students began to yell vulgar comments at members of the UCM football team.
Warrensburg Daily-Star Journal sports editor Randy Speer, who was in attendance at Saturday’s game, posted on Twitter at halftime that the Missouri Southern student section was chanting a vulgarity directed at UCM's team.
The fan also noted in the Facebook post that some students had bottles and cans of beer, were blowing cigarette smoke in the visitors’ faces and spilling beer on their blankets.
“The university police did nothing but stand there and watch it happen,” the fan stated.
University police Chief Ken Kennedy, in response to a Globe question, said an officer on the scene approached the incident as “a policy violation, because no crime was committed.”
“Some students came into the stands on the east side and got loud,” Kennedy said. “We were there and never heard them do anything but yell for the game. They were just yelling, like fans do. We made sure that they weren’t drinking, behaved themselves, and made sure everyone was safe. So we stayed up there with them until the game was over.
“Alcohol consumption isn’t permitted (inside the stadium), and that’s why they had to pour out (their drinks) and why there were cans everywhere. They were told to pour that out or leave, and so they all poured it out.”
Kennedy said the standard procedure for campus police is to ask fans to pour out their alcoholic beverages unless they're younger than 21, in which case “they would get an administrative or state citation.”
In her post, the fan included photos of beer bottles and cans that were left behind in the stands by the MSSU students.
Alcohol consumption is not permitted in the stands at Fred G. Hughes Stadium, and no outside food or drinks are allowed to be brought inside. Alcohol is allowed in the hospitality suite located inside the North Endzone Facility. Smoking also is not permitted inside the stadium.
"I'm a member of this community," the author of the Facebook post noted, "who watched a small section of Southern's student body give off a terrible representation of what the college is about."
The author also noted that some students apologized for the behavior of others and indicated this is not how they wanted the university represented.
MSSU athletic media relations director Justin Maskus told the Globe on Monday that neither MSSU Head Coach Jeff Sims nor Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman would comment on the incident.
“The university has already issued a statement from Dr. Marble, and there will be no other statements issued at this time,” Maskus said.