The Oklahoma athletic department Monday condemned an alleged assault by Sooners fans on an Oklahoma State staffer during Saturday’s annual “Bedlam” rivalry game.

According to reports, an OSU equipment manager was injured by Oklahoma supporters after he went into the stands to retrieve a football. A tradition at home games for the Sooners involves fans tossing balls that land in the north end of the stands after opponents’ field goals up the seats and eventually out of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla.

After a second-quarter field goal by the Cowboys went through the uprights and into the stands, one fan threw the ball farther back to an area in which the equipment manager was positioned. Video of the episode posted by Oklahoma City TV station KOKH showed a fracas breaking out at that point, attracting the attention of stadium event staff and security personnel.

Oklahoma City TV station KFOR reported that the OSU staffer suffered a broken rib.

“The OU Athletics Department is aware of the interaction during Saturday night’s game between some fans and an Oklahoma State team staff member,” Oklahoma said in a statement provided to The Washington Post. “The matter was immediately turned over to the OU Police Department and is under investigation with the athletics department’s full cooperation. No matter the outcome of the investigation, physical contact by any fan with an employee of any team is unacceptable. The department condemns the behavior of the involved fans, and once the individuals are identified, they will be banned from attending any future OU Athletics events.”

A spokesman for Oklahoma State athletics could not be immediately reached for comment.

“When OSU kicked the ball, all I heard was — they were like, ‘Let him go, let him go,’ ” a man who said he witnessed the incident told KFOR. “They were really beating this kid down.”

The man said he saw three or four OU fans “just swinging on” the equipment manager in the bleachers.

“I was like, ‘Okay, that’s not right,’ ” the man added. “So I ran up there and I was trying to pull people off, and there was people pulling me. … I understand it’s a tradition for OU, but at some point, it don’t matter whether you have on orange or crimson, there’s no reason to — I didn’t think there’s any reasoning for that.”

In a concession to the coronavirus pandemic, Oklahoma is allowing a maximum of 25 percent of its usual attendance for Sooners games this season. After the 18th-ranked team’s 41-13 win over the No. 14 Cowboys, Sooners Coach Lincoln Riley said, “That place was rocking.”

“I don’t care how many people were in here,” Riley continued. “The guys played well and really fed off of it. All of this talk about not having a home-field advantage, with limited people in the stadium — if you were in that stadium tonight, there was a home-field advantage, which is pretty special.”

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