BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA) – The head coach of Louisiana State University’s gymnastics team says the school will be increasing its security measures after fans allegedly created a “mob-like feel” at a recent meet in Utah.
Some of the fans creating the disturbance were reportedly in attendance at the Jan. 6 event to see Olivia Dunne, an LSU gymnast with nearly 7 million followers on TikTok, according to ESPN.
“We live in a day and age where social media drives everything, and it’s unfortunate that that kind of behavior can happen,” LSU head coach Jay Clark said during a media session on Wednesday.
Dunne, on the Sunday after the meet, had also requested on Twitter that her fans be “respectful” of other athletes at the event.
When it comes to fans, Dunne has many of them — in the form of 2.8 million followers on Instagram and 6.7 million on TikTok. She was also the highest-earning female college athlete in 2022, boasting partnerships with several clothing and lifestyle brands, Sports Illustrated reported.
Some of those fans, according to ESPN, were holding signs to try and attract Dunne’s attention, as well as a cardboard cutout of the gymnast. They also “screamed” and chanted her name, according to the outlet, causing a scene that disrupted her teammates and competitors.
The LSU Tigers were in Utah to face off against the University of Utah’s Red Rocks gymnastics team at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Utah ultimately defeated LSU by a score of 197.275-196.775.
Addressing the incident this week, LSU’s Jay Clark praised Utah for providing security even though the Tigers didn’t make a request for it.
When talking about the behavior of some of the fans, Clark claimed there was a “mob-like kind of feel” in the arena that he found “disconcerting.”
As a result, Clark said LSU might “change some of the policies about allowing our kids to go into the stands following the meet” at home games.
When it comes to road meets like the one LSU has scheduled for Friday, gymnastics will have a security detail.
“We will be working to create sort of a perimeter around where we load and disembark on the bus,” Clark said.
Fan interaction in the arena will be watched closely, according to Clark.
“The safety of our student-athletes is paramount to me as a father and as a coach,” he said.
LSU will be going for their first win of the season on Friday. The Kentucky Wildcats and LSU Tigers will tangle at 5 p.m. in Rupp Arena.