STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) – Chaotic scenes broke out on the University of Connecticut campus following the UConn Huskies’ NCAA championship win on Monday night. Fifteen people were arrested and charged with various crimes while 16 others were hospitalized, according to school officials.
About 10,000 people were watching the game in the university’s Gampel Pavilion arena. Police were present across the campus, keeping an eye on the crowds, and then interfering once the celebrations took a turn.
University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz claimed the vast majority of those celebrating the victory last night on the campus in Storrs, Connecticut, did so safely and responsibly. But “a small number chose to risk their safety and that of others by vandalizing or destroying property after the game,” she said.
The vandalism primarily consisted of broken light poles in the center of campus, broken windows, a car turned over on its side, and fires set in trash dumpsters and wooden benches, according to Reitz.
Reitz said 15 people, mainly students, were arrested. Another 16 were transported to area hospitals for various injuries, though none of them are considered to be significant.
The university and its safety department had previously issued a message on social media reminding students that celebrations should stay safe, responsible and respectful. But by midnight, fans had smashed out windows, tipped over a van and taken down lampposts on campus.
On one road that passed by the UConn student union building, at least half a dozen streetlights were torn to the ground. A fire had also been started in the middle of the street. Students were also climbing onto campus buildings, video from Nexstar’s WTNH shows. Police were seen taking people into custody by around 12:30 a.m.
UConn police will investigate the vandalism and potential criminal offenses that occurred following the game. Reitz said those responsible will be arrested and, if they attend UConn, could face sanctions up to and including expulsion.
Leaders across the state, meanwhile, joined in celebrating the school’s achievements virtually. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said he was “so proud” of the Huskies, while Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said it was “time to start planning a parade.”
The team even earned a shout-out from President Joe Biden, who said the team’s “dominant performances” were “often incredible to watch.” The Empire State Building was also lit blue and white in the university’s honor.