University of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart announced Wednesday that Kentucky fan Ashley Lyles will face consequences for using a racial slur to refer to a Tennessee fan during the Volunteers' 81-73 win over the Wildcats at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, on Tuesday:
After video of the incident circulated across the internet and went viral, Lyles identified herself and apologized in the following statement to LEX 18:
"My reaction after the game was unacceptable, period. It was against all values of the University and state of Kentucky. I humbly apologize to the individuals at which my words were directed. My words were hurtful and hateful and have no place in this world. I apologize to the University and state of Kentucky for the embarrassment I have caused. I want my apology not just to be in words, but in actions moving forward."
Video of Lyles using a racial slur was posted by Tennessee fan Ethan Williams, who was the subject of her abusive language. Williams explained the decision to post the video to TMZ Sports:
"There is no excuse for her actions. There were plenty of Kentucky fans around before her that said good game and headed out, but she made a conscious effort to make the comments that she made. I felt like it needed to be shared and that the university needed to be made aware of the incident, because it's 2020 and competitions should be able to be enjoyed by all fans."
Lyles is the founder of Sparkle Bright, which is a nonprofit that supports brain cancer patients. The website states that Lyles started the foundation after surviving an aggressive form of brain cancer.
In 2017, Tyler Thompson of Kentucky Sports Radio reported how Kentucky basketball inspired Lyles to start Sparkle Bright.
While Lyles has deep ties to Kentucky basketball, Barnhart's comments suggest the university will punish her in some capacity.
The Wildcats have no home games remaining this season before closing out their regular-season slate on the road against Florida on Saturday.
After that, the SEC regular-season champions will be the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament and then go on to partake in the NCAA tournament.