Celebrations, destruction on campus follow UConn victory
Some UConn fans pulled down signs and light poles, smashed windows and caused other damage after thousands of people, most of them students, spilled onto campus following the Huskies' NCAA Tournament win over San Diego State.
Fifteen people had been arrested by early Tuesday and 16 were taken to the hospital during the celebrations. None of the injuries were thought to be serious, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said.
“The vast majority of those celebrating the Husky victory last night did so safely and responsibly,” she said in a statement. “A small number chose to risk their safety and that of others by vandalizing or destroying property after the game.”
Most of those arrested were students, she said. Police were expected to investigate the damage, and those responsible could face expulsion if they are students.
Gampel Pavilion, the school's basketball arena, was open Monday night for students to watch the game, which was played in Houston. More than 10,000 people attended the watch party.
Much of the partying, which lasted into the early morning, was peaceful, but social media and television video showed students taking down signs and light posts, with several using one pole to smash through the glass portion of a door at one campus building as a crowd cheered.
Reitz said the damage also included broken windows, a vehicle flipped on its side and fires set in trash dumpsters and on wooden benches.
“We were on the streets and people were going crazy,” said Nancy Toskova, a 20-year-old junior from Montreal, Quebec. “Everyone was celebrating. Everyone was happy. You felt good. Everyone came together. I was expecting something worse to be honest. I was expecting cars flipping and fires everywhere and people breaking everything, which happened but not to the extent I imagined.”
Crews worked feverishly through the morning to clean up the debris and make repairs. Classes and other academic operations were being held as regularly scheduled, Reitz said.
The team was scheduled to return home to Storrs Tuesday afternoon, with a rally planned inside Gampel, the team's home arena.
The Huskies were scheduled to arrive at Bradley International Airport about 3:30 p.m., with team buses making the about 40-mile (64-kilometer) drive to campus under police escort. The school said there will be no public access at the airport.
Gov. Ned Lamont took to Twitter shortly after the 76-59 victory to congratulate the team.
“You guys worked so hard for this and we could not be more proud,” he wrote. “Now, it’s time to plan a parade.”