The Washington Post

NCAA tournament 2014: Virginia’s Tony Bennett talks about rogue fan at ACC tournament

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Virginia Coach Tony Bennett likened the situation to the movie “Wedding Crashers.”

During the Cavaliers’ ACC tournament championship win over Duke last Sunday in Greensboro, N.C., a Virginia fan disguised as one of the team’s staff members – he told Deadspin that he bought a suit and orange tie at Walmart the night before – sneaked onto the arena floor and spent the entire game on the sideline or near the huddle.

When the final buzzer sounded, he received an ACC tournament championship hat and T-shirt and celebrated with the team on the floor. ESPN cameras even caught him shaking hands with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

His stunt became public earlier this week, and while Virginia’s players were instructed not to comment on the situation Thursday before the Cavaliers’ open practice at PNC Arena, Bennett said he thought something fishy was up well before basketball administrator Ronnie Wideman realized a fan had gotten past security at Greensboro Coliseum.

“Honest to gosh, I noticed the guy, for some reason I noticed him once or twice during the game,” Bennett said. “He was near, but I thought that’s probably the coliseum security they have during the game. When the celebration came on and I saw the guy when our guys were bouncing and saying ‘Hoos,’ and he was in there, I thought maybe he’s somebody’s son, somebody close to the program. …

“Ronnie Wideman said: ‘Hey, are you with us? What’s the story?’ I can’t remember, but it was obviously kind of funny. … He slipped his way in there. Obviously, he’s getting a lot of play out of it, but glad he could enjoy some of the celebration. I’m sure his friends are giving him high-fives. I doubt that will happen again.”

More NCAA tournament news

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ESPN lets rats pick the NCAA tournament winner (video)

Preaching patience, Mike Lonergan has GW back in March Madness

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Photos: The best of the Tournament | 68 teams, 68 facts

Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.



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