On Tuesday evening at MSUs Breslin Center, fans witnessed the best aspects of intercollegiate athletic competition. The Wolverines and the Spartans, two talented intra-state rivals, participated in a hotly contested basketball game. The skill and effort displayed by some of the nations very best athletes brought pride to both universities.
Sadly, some incidents and behaviors marred the event. The fans taunts and jeers were heard not only by other fans, but also by a national television audience viewing the game on ESPN. Many of the words reported to us indicated lack of civility; others indicated ignorance. Some of the verbal outcries were merely boorish and childish; some were blatantly hurtful and malicious.
We are hurt and disappointed that a proud and respectful rivalry between two of the nations greatest universities could be tainted by the actions of a few who apparently have no appreciation for tradition and competition. Our universities work closely together, not only in teaching, research, and service to the people of Michigan and the world, but also in athleticsthrough cooperation in the Big Ten and the NCAA.
We deplore the fact that people purport to represent our universities as fans, then act in ways that run counter to the values we advocate. They represent only their own biases, prejudices, and ignorance.
We are confident that when these teams meet again in Ann Arbor, and in the future, that the intolerant few will be drowned out by the tolerant many who understand what a university is all about, and what athletic competition can do to enhance, not tear down, cooperation and mutual respect that have endured over the years.