On Oct. 19, The University of Southern Mississippi concluded its investigation of an Oct. 1 football game incident.
According to the persons involved, two African-American students were allegedly called names and had drinks thrown at them when they remained seated during the national anthem. The university police department investigated these claims in conjunction with several offices within the school, according to a mass email sent by the Office of the Dean of Students.
“The University of Southern Mississippi’s police department (UPD) has completed its investigation of the incident at the Saturday, Oct. 1 football game and delivered its report to the Dean of Students Office for disciplinary review under the Student Code of Conduct,” Dean of Students Eddie Holloway wrote in the email. “Captain Rusty Keyes led this investigation with the assistance of the Department of Athletics and the Division of Student Affairs. Our standards of student behavior are set forth by the Code of Student Conduct.”
Holloway said he met with all persons involved and viewed the footage captured at the game.
“We have investigated the [alleged victims’] posts on social media about being verbally insulted, kneed in the back and having beverages poured on them,” Holloway said.
The university and all individuals involved in the incident did conclude that there was a verbal exchange as reported by the alleged victims but that there was no physical contact made directly or indirectly by the students in question. No targeted or intended contact was made, according to Holloway.
“In conclusion, the verbal exchange occurred during the playing of the national anthem,” Holloway said. “Later, about 3o minutes into the first quarter of the football game, Ito Smith made a play, ran the ball to the five yard line and fumbled the ball. In response to the play, a beverage was waste or spilled on several persons in the student section. It was concluded that the spillage was accidental or unintended. This was what was concluded by police and all people that were interviewed – witnesses or otherwise.”
Holloway said the verbal exchange was not in the spirit of the Creed at Southern Miss.
“The verbal exchange was made from one individual to two young ladies during the first quarter of the game,” Holloway said. “Student behavior is governed by the Code of Student Conduct within the student handbook. The creed at Southern Miss sets forth a spirit of togetherness and a standard of behavior to which all students can aspire to achieve. We all strive to be a member of a big family called Southern Miss.”
“We encourage students who feel that they have been harmed or bothered may reach out to campus police,” Holloway said.
“I appreciate UPD’s rapid response and your patience as we completed a thorough review of this occurrence,” Holloway wrote in the email. “President Bennett recently reminded us that when we disagree with one another, we must, as members of the Southern Miss community, respect each individual’s right to express his or her opinions and beliefs without fear or intimidation. As stated in the student-adopted Creed at Southern Miss, I am hopeful that in the future we will all exhibit behavior and choose language that demonstrates respect for fellow members of the Southern Miss community.”