Florida fans accused of mocking Mike VI's death with cat skeleton
GAINESVILLE – The rivalry between LSU and University of Florida fans got even uglier Saturday after a Gators fan threw a cat skeleton decorated with purple and gold beads onto the sidelines Saturday.
A photo showing two two Florida Gators players playing with the prop was posted onto Reddit with the title, "Florida players were mocking the death of LSU's mascot Mike VI with a cat skeleton on the sideline."
The photo prompted the University of Florida to release a statement via Twitter Sunday afternoon saying ‘the Halloween cat' has no significance with the program.
The Halloween cat seen on the field after last nights game was thrown onto the field by a fan. It has no significance within our program.— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 16, 2016
SEC Network cameras captured a fan proudly displaying the prop during the final quarter of the game.
Tensions rose between the two fan bases after the Southeastern Conference postponed the Oct. 8 meeting between Florida and LSU due to Hurricane Matthew. LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said that the Tigers made several proposals to salvage the original date, even playing the game in an empty stadium on a Monday. Florida officials rejected any proposal that would move the game from Gainesville.
Both schools announced Thursday that the game would be rescheduled to Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge. Both teams bought out of the other games originally scheduled for that week.
Despite Alleva’s attempts, Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley criticized LSU, telling reporters “LSU was never a true partner in our discussions.”
Mike VI was euthanized last week after being diagnosed with cancer in May. The live mascot underwent radiotherapy in June at the Mary-Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.
LSU Veterinary School officials announced that the tumor in Mike’s head had grown and the cancer had spread to his lungs and rear leg. Mike VI was euthanized one day after he was transitioned into hospice care.