Mississippi football rivalry marred by threat to campus greenery

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 26, 2014 6:04 PM

(Reuters) - An anonymous, hand-written note threatening damage to trees and shrubs on the University of Mississippi campus ahead of a major intra-state football game was turned over to federal investigators on Wednesday, the school said in a statement.

The note refers to the rivalry between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State, whose football teams will play on the former's campus in Oxford on Saturday in the traditional rivalry game known as the "Egg Bowl."

"What's going to happen to ya'll on the field Saturday Aint nothing compared to what's going to happen on your beautiful campus," the note read, according to the university, which is also known as "Ole Miss." "A lot of shrubs and trees are going to die; especially in the grove. Can't stop us."

The note is signed "Hail State Go to Hell TSUN," which includes an acronym for "The School Up North" - what Mississippi State supporters popularly call the in-state rival.

The Grove is a popular tailgating area at the center of the University of Mississippi campus. It is not clear where the note was found or how the university obtained it late on Tuesday.

In a statement posted its website, the school's police chief urged supporters of both schools not to cross any lines.

"We encourage everyone to remember that this is a game, after all, not a time for hate," said University of Mississippi Police Chief Calvin Sellers in the statement.

"We are hopeful that passions have not escalated to the point that someone is prepared to do damage to a landmark for which all Mississippians take great pride."

The threat, which the school said it turned over to FBI investigators in Jackson, recalls a 2010 incident in which a fan of the University of Alabama football team poisoned a beloved stand of oak trees on the campus of Auburn University, an in-state rival.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by Frank McGurty and Sandra Maler)