Just when you thought Oregon fans behaved badly, their Big 10 neighbors, Illinois, may have topped them. This time, they directed their ire (and four letter words) at an athlete that was going to go to school there, then changed his mind. Illinois athletic officials apologized Friday after fans greeted Indiana and star freshman Eric Gordon with obscene chants and curses during the Hoosiers' double overtime win.
"The profanity and behavior by a small segment of fans Thursday night is disappointing and intolerable, and for that we apologize to fans of both teams," Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther and coach Bruce Weber said in a statement posted Friday on the men's basketball website. Gordon was making his first appearance at Assembly Hall since reneging on an oral commitment to play for the Illini. Students chanted "Liar! Liar!" and obscenities, booed every time he touched the ball and cheered every mistake. He was sloppy early on, but came through late for the Hoosiers, hitting a clutch three-pointer late in regulation to help send No. 13 Indiana to an 83-79 victory. Gordon finished with 19 points, all but one of them after halftime.
Guenther and Weber said in the statement that they take the reputation of Illini basketball seriously and "the game has been somewhat diminished by inappropriate behavior by a number of fans in attendance." Gordon and the Hoosiers (19-3, 8-1 Big Ten) are in contention for a Big Ten title. The Illini (10-14, 2-9) are in danger of missing the post-season for the first time since 1999.
If the Fighting Illini miss post-season, they deserve it, given their fans behavior. Yes, Gordon did say he was coming to Champaign-Urban, then he changed his mind. Maybe he did because he thought he could get a better education in Bloomington. Both schools are fine institutions with a rich history in the Big 10. The Daily Illini issued a statement from the school's SID, basically stating that the behavior was not "to Illinois standards of behavior." It's one thing to try and rattle a guy's chains. It's another when you toss the f word around. There may be children listening or adults that do not want to hear that. Granted it was a small group that did that but one bad apple can ruin things for everyone. Too bad we can't take these people out, find some nuns and wash their mouths out with soap. At the same time, we have to police ourselves. The message to Illinois and Oregon. Think before you speak!