KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After the University of Tennessee was fined $250,000 for debris thrown on the field late in the game against Ole Miss, Vols fans are putting their money where their mouths are by raising thousands of dollars for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
A GoFundMe, organized by Brent Baltzer and backed by Vol for Life Jayson Swain, has surfaced calling on VolNation to respond and show “members of the national media” about true Tennessee spirit by raising funds for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
“If you go through those doors, [like I have] you see children fighting things that they’re not supposed to be fighting,” Swain said. “They’re supposed to be living life carefree and they’re not. And we see parents that are in there as well so if we can find some kind of comfort financially, then that’s why we’re here.”
“Rather than going negative and getting down in the mud and fighting with certain national media members, the best way to respond to that is to do something positive and help people and change the narrative that way,” Baltzer said.
The call to action of the fundraisers is this, “Let’s raise $102,455 for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. These funds will help the hospital to keep an open door policy to help sick kids in the Knoxville area. The minimum donation is $5. If just 20% of people that were at Neyland Stadium donate that amount, we will blow this goal out of the water!”
“When you see the whole fan base being painted in a negative light because of the actions of a few people, it hurts people,” Baltzer said.
“We’re turning something that was unfortunate that obviously we know was not right,” Swain said. “Throwing stuff on the field, certainly not something to be taken up for. But that’s not the spirit of Tennessee, that’s not the spirit of VolNation. This is the spirit of VolNation, and we want to make sure everybody knows it.”
The goal of $102,455 represents the total capacity of Neyland Stadium. As of Oct. 25, the GoFundMe has raised over $84,000.
Rewind to Oct. 16, UT administration was quick to denounce fan conduct, with UT chancellor Donde Plowman reaching out to University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce to apologize.
“Good sportsmanship must be part of who we are as Volunteers,” said Plowman in a tweet. “Behavior that puts student athletes, coaches, visitors and other fans at risk is not something we will tolerate.”
Alongside academic faculty, UT athletic director Danny White released a statement on the incident.
“While I’m incredibly proud of our team’s effort on the field,” White said. “I’m disappointed that their relentless performance was overshadowed in the game’s closing moments by the actions of several fans whose actions did not represent the Volunteer Spirit or the true character of our university.”