The LSU gymnastics team is adding increased security for the rest of the season ahead of Friday’s meet against the University of Kentucky because of increased interest in gymnast Olivia Dunne.
Coach Jay Clark announced that the team will add another security officer who will join the team in its hotels and locker rooms and create a perimeter to keep everyone safe as the team goes to and from its bus at all venues.
“We will have a security detail with us now when we go on the road, and we will be working to create a perimeter around where we get on the bus, where we load,” Clark told reporters this week.
“Things have to change. We just can’t expose them,” he added. “We’re looking at some policy changes that will give parents access at a different location to their daughters.”
Last Friday’s meet between LSU and the University of Utah at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City was disrupted by a swarm of young male fans who had come to see Dunne compete.
They showed up with life-size cutouts of the junior and led wild chants that constantly interrupted other athletes’ performances, all while Dunne was not even participating in the event.
After the meet, many of them could be seen waiting for her to come out of the arena and continually asking people where she was.
“There’s literally a line outside of the Huntsman Center of teenage boys that keep asking if Livvy is coming out. I’ve never seen anything like this,” said KSL’s Josh Furlong.
“This is actually so scary and disturbing and cringey. I’m embarrassed for them…,” tweeted former Olympic medalist Samantha Peszek.
“As we were walking to the car, the group swarmed my daughter and her teammate. They literally said to their faces, you are not Livvy but you will do, can we get a picture? [The group] also called my daughter Livvy 2.0. They were so rude and disrespectful,” one Utah mom told Fox Sports.
The situation reportedly escalated to the point where the LSU team bus had to alter its plans and take a different route leaving the arena, and the police had to intervene to keep the fans from getting to the team.
Dunne responded to the incident on Twitter:
“I will always appreciate and love the support from you guys, but if you come to a meet, I want to ask you to please be respectful of the other gymnasts and the gymnastics community as we are just doing our job.”
Dunne is a popular social media influencer whose content on TikTok and Instagram has drawn millions of followers. She is currently one of the most valuable college athletes in terms of name, image, and likeness (NIL) with an estimated evaluation of $2.7 million according to On3.
That trails only Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, USC quarterback Caleb Williams, and Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud among college athletes and is sixth among amateur athletes overall.