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11 Most Insane College Sports Riots of All Time

by: Esteban On  Tuesday, April 1, 2014

college sports riots

On Saturday night, a small riot broke out on University Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona, when the Arizona Wildcats lost their Elite Eight battle against the Badgers from Wisconsin. It all started innocently enough, with drunk fans gathering in the streets after the game. However, once the riot cops gave the orders to disperse, a few of the more rowdy drunks starting throwing bottles and cans, and pretty soon the cops were firing non-lethal projectiles and roughing people up.

Now that the dust has settled, the TPD’s department of internal affairs is investigating whether some of the officers acted with more aggression that was necessary. However, in the end there were no serious injuries reported and no real property damage, and only 15 people were arrested. So as far as college sports riots go, this one was pretty tame.

You want to see some that weren’t so tame? Take a look at this list of the most extreme college sports riots of all time. It will give you a pretty good idea of just how much worse things could have been.


11. Tennessee, 2010

Late in 2008, the University of Tennessee hired Lane Kiffin to be the head coach of their football team. Early in 2010, after just one bad season, Kiffin ditched the Volunteers to go coach USC. And this made the students at the University of Tennessee extremely angry. So on January 12, after hearing the news, hundreds of them took to the streets of Knoxville, smashing and setting fire to things, and causing a great deal of damage.


10. Penn State, 2011

At #11 we have another college sports riot inspired by the departure of a coach. However, in this case the guy didn’t resign. He was fired.

On November 9, 2011, after the Board of Trustees at Penn State dismissed legendary coach Joe Paterno for his role in covering up Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation, a couple thousand angry Penn State students took to the streets of college station. They tore down lamp posts and overturned a news van, all while shouting clever slogans like, “Hell no, Joe won’t go.”

Obviously, those Penn State kids are a little less quick to judge people who cover up the sexual abuse of children than the rest of us are.


9. Minnesota, 2002

Football and basketball aren’t the only sports that can spark riots on college campuses—at least not in Minnesota. Back on April 6, 2002, after the Golden Gophers beat Maine to win the NCAA men’s hockey championship, about a thousand students poured out onto the streets surrounding the Minneapolis campus, smashing street lights, setting furniture on fire, and hurling rocks at police. In all, at least 30 people were arrested.


8. UConn, 2011

On April 4, 2011, riots broke out in Storrs, Connecticut, after the UConn huskies won the 2011 Men’s basketball national championship. Light poles and streets signs were torn down. Trash cans were thrown. A piano was set on fire. And two cars were flipped—though, obviously, not the one in the video you see here.

In all, 23 people got arrested that night. However, only 10 of them were UConn students, because apparently you don’t actually have to attend a university to be a fan of their basketball team and turn into a deranged moron when they win.


7. Purdue, 2000

Right around the turn of the century, Purdue was one of the most riotous colleges in America. They rioted in 1999 when the women’s basketball team won the national championship, and they rioted in 2001 when the women’s basketball team lost in the finals to their Northern Indiana neighbors, Notre Dame. However, the most memorable riot at Purdue from that era came on March 25, 2000, after the Boilermakers’ men’s basketball team lost in the Elite Eight to Wisconsin. That one got way out of hand.


6. Maryland, 2010

Coming in at no. 6 we have the riot that erupted in College Park, Maryland, on March 3, 2010, after a late-season victory by the Terrapins men’s basketball team over the Duke Blue Devils. Riot cops on horses had to keep the crowd of 1,000 arsonists at bay, and in the end 28 people were arrested.

Was it a big win? Sure. Duke is Maryland’s arch rival (though the feeling is not quite mutual…which only makes the hatred stronger), they were ranked fourth in the country, and the win put them in first place in the ACC.

That being said, Maryland basketball fans don’t need a particularly good excuse to riot. They do it all the time, win or lose. And that’s why the next two college sports riots on this list also took place in College Park…


5. Maryland, 2001

Whether it’s a big win or a big loss, if Duke basketball is involved, Maryland fans are going to riot.

As it happens, on March 31, 2001, the occasion was a big loss. Maryland totally choked against the Blue Devils in the Final Four, blowing a huge 22-point lead. Thus, after the game, rowdy fans smashed storefronts, attacked police, and started a bonfire that caused $500,000 in damage.


4. Maryland, 2002

Just one year after wreaking havoc on the streets of College Park, Maryland, causing over $500,000 worth of damage, Terrapins basketball fans were back at it again in 2002. The only difference? This time the crowd of 5,000 people had a “good” excuse—this time, Maryland actually won its first ever national championship.

Unfortunately, property owners in College Park couldn’t really tell the difference. Destruction is destruction.


3. Kentucky, 2012

As we were reminded again this year, Kentucky Wildcats fans love beating in-state rival Louisville. However, two year ago, when KU did it in the Final Four to advance to the national championship game, the celebrations got way out of hand.

On March 31, 2012, riot cops were called in when an estimated 10,000 people flooded the streets of Lexington, Kentucky, flipping cars and setting at least 50 fires to couches, trash cans, and other various objects. Amazingly, though, only 10 arrests were made.


2. Ohio State, 2002

On November 23, 2002, the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes closed out a Big Ten championship with a 14-9 win over the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines, thus securing a berth BCS National Championship Game.

The fans? They went berserk. After storming the field they poured out onto the streets and started smashing everything in sight. By the time things died down, the mob of 5,000 people had started 107 fires and destroyed 20 cars, and police had made a whopping 70 arrests.


1. Michigan State, 1999

The biggest and most destructive college sports riot of all time went down in 1999 in East Lansing, Michigan, after the Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball team lost to Duke in the Final Four. A mob of somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people took to the streets and destroyed anything in it’s path, causing $500,000 worth of damage. In the end, 132 people were arrested by the scores of riot cops combing the streets, and a whopping 71 were students.