University of Kentucky apologizes for fan's racial slur, bans her from all future games

An ugly scene unfolded in the closing moments of the University of Kentucky Wildcats' upset loss at home to arch-rival Tennessee.
Image: NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky
The Kentucky Wildcats and yhr Tennessee Volunteers during the first half of a game in Lexington, Ky., on March 3, 2020.Mark Zerof / Mark Zerof

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By David K. Li

The University of Kentucky banned a basketball fan from all future Wildcats sports events after she shouted a racist slur at a supporter of a visiting team, the school announced on Thursday.

The ugly incident happened in the closing moments of the Wildcats' shocking loss to their bitter rival, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, on Tuesday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

The offending Wildcats fan appeared to drop the N-word at a Vols supporter in footage recorded by the Tennessee backer.

"An incident like the one that took place last night at Rupp Arena has no place at the University of Kentucky," Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart tweeted on Wednesday. "There will be consequences for this unacceptable behavior and they will be announced once communicated to the offending party."

Barnhart added, "We also have reached out to the patron who was the victim of this abusive and inexcusable language to apologize personally. That’s not who we are as an athletics department."

Then on Thursday, the athletic director announced that fan would no longer be welcome at any Wildcats sports events.

"We have permanently revoked ticket privileges for all UK Athletics events from the person who made the abusive remark at Tuesday night’s game, effective immediately," Barnhart said in a written statement.

"This misconduct is unacceptable, unwelcome at the University of Kentucky and not reflective of our values."

NBC affiliate WLEX in Lexington reported that the fan, Ashely Lyles, is apologetic for her "unacceptable" behavior.

"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," Lyles said in a statement to the NBC station.

"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.”

NBC News reached out to Lyles at phone numbers listed under her name but did not immediately hear back.