Text by Kathleen Megan and Nicholas Rondinone, Hartford Courant; video by Mike Magnoli, FOX CT
STORRS — Many students celebrated responsibly Saturday night as the University of Connecticut Huskies defeated University of Florida Gators in the Final Four of the NCCA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
By the end of the night, there were 26 students arrested in the celebrations of the game, according to university Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
Reitz said many of the arrests were misdemeanor charges including breach of peace, also some arrested were related to alcohol.
“UConn students did themselves proud both on and off the basketball court, as a vast majority of our students celebrated the team’s victory responsibly and safely,” Reitz said. “We look forward to more pride and excitement as the women’s team competes tonight, and the men compete for the championship on Monday.”
Information wasn’t immediately available Sunday morning on what proportion were students versus non-students.
The university estimated that more than 8,000 students watched the game broadcast live at Gampel Pavilion.
“The Storrs campus was active this evening, as we expected, with a large crowd of UConn fans celebrating tonight’s big win,” UConn Police Chief Barbara O’Connor said Saturday night. “I’m pleased to say the vast majority of our students have been both respectful and responsible. As of 10:30 pm, there have been relatively few arrests. UConn Police and State Police will continue to be engaged on campus throughout the night.”
Spokesman Tom Breen said Saturday night the arrests were made before, during and after the game.
He said that immediately after the game, students danced to a disc jockey with a light show outside Gampel. At one point, students climbed up on top of the DJ’s truck, but Breen said police got them off the truck without a problem.
“We’re very happy. There were a lot of students here and other folks. They were boisterous, but really well-behaved,” Breen said, “People were just in a great mood”
Breen said the UConn Police had more officers on duty than usual Saturday night, along with Connecticut State Police troopers.
He said it probably helped that the university has had experience handling revelers after past UConn NCAA Tournament victories and has developed strategies to control the partying that occurs in late April on Spring Weekend.
The school had asked students in an email earlier in the week to celebrate responsibly should the teams win.
“We hope both games will end in celebrations on our campuses this weekend and beyond — but if you celebrate, please do so responsibly,” an email from men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie, women’s coach Geno Auriemma and university president Susan Herbst said. “Don’t let an amazing moment like a UConn victory be tarnished by doing something destructive.”
A student was arrested and charged with breach of peace last Sunday after police saw him burning a magazine in celebrations following the Huskies win over the Michigan State University Spartans.