UMass promises 'swift' punishment for rioters

Updated: December 16, 2006, 6:37 PM ET
Associated Press

AMHERST, Mass. -- University of Massachusetts officials promised "swift disciplinary action" against students who rioted after the football team lost the Division I-AA championship game.

Eleven people, including 10 students, were arrested and two UMass police officers sustained minor injuries in the melee, in which students lit small fires, smashed windows and threw bottles, cans, rocks and even bicycles at police, according to campus spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.

The rioting began after about 1,800 students surged onto a plaza in a southwest residential area of campus late Friday, shortly after UMass lost 28-17 to Appalachian State in the championship game in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"I'm outraged and terribly disappointed in the students involved in this disturbance," said Michael Gargano, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life. "This type of behavior hurts the majority of our students who are studying and preparing for final exams and are at the university for all the right reasons."

The cases against the arrested students will be reviewed early this week and any discipline will be handed down by week's end, Blaguszewski said. Punishment could include expulsion and loss of this semester's academic record, Gargano said.

About 60 officers, including UMass, state and Amherst police, responded in riot gear. They used pepper ball, sting ball, flash bangs and smoke to eventually disperse the crowd, Blaguszewski said.

"Students were throwing trash cans and breaking windows and the riot squad came, and they were throwing tear gas and shooting pellets at the crowd," student Dan Nguyen told The Boston Globe. "It was pretty crazy."

The university said a damage estimate wouldn't be available until early next week.

The arrested students face charges of disorderly conduct and failure to disperse. UMass police chief Barbara O'Connor said more people could be charged or disciplined after a review of security camera video and swipe card data, which shows who went in and out of nearby residence halls.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press