Published April 06, 2004
STORRS, Conn. – University of Connecticut (search) fans started fires and overturned cars during the night in celebration of the school's men's basketball team winning its second NCAA (search) championship.
About 35 people were arrested, authorities said Tuesday. No serious injuries were reported.
Thousands of dancing, cheering fans celebrated across campus after the UConn Huskies beat Georgia Tech (search) 82-73 Monday night, lighting fires and fireworks and upending trash cans.
University police said several thousand people gathered at the Celeron Square apartment complex where many students live, about a mile north of campus. A dozen fires were set outside and two cars were overturned.
"This is one of those situations we won't tolerate," university police Maj. Ron Blicher said. "This is the worst up here in recent memory."
On Saturday, after UConn's semifinal victory, a crowd lit a bonfire at Celeron Square and a dozen people were arrested. Bonfires also were started when UConn won its first championship in 1999.
A beefed-up police force dispersed the crowds Monday night while firefighters doused flames. Authorities said the partying appeared to die down by about 2 a.m. Tuesday.
Police and firefighters will be ready again Tuesday night, when the UConn women's basketball team plays Tennessee in the national championship game in New Orleans. If they win, UConn would be the first college to win both the men's and women's titles in the same year. The Lady Huskies were going for their third straight title.
About 7,000 people had watched the men's game on large-screen televisions at Gampel Pavilion, the team's home arena.
After the game, the university set up a party outside Gampel.
"Everybody just gets so excited," said Kevin Fahey, an assistant director of campus activities. "There's so much energy. They need a place to let it out."
But along with the party outside Gampel, some fans set a couch and a barrier on fire, and police arrested two people they said had climbed a ledge outside the arena.