- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The student body president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas says there are no hard feelings after he was ejected from Saturday’s basketball game at rival Nevada.

Mark Ciavola, 39, a political science major at UNLV as well as the campaign manager for Nevada Republican Congressman Joe Heck, says he thinks some UNR fans should have been ejected too during the confrontation near the UNR student section at the Lawlor Events Center.

But he says that when all was said and done, he congratulated Wolf Pack fans as they exited the building following Nevada’s 76-72 victory.

“The rivalry between UNR and UNLV has gone on for so long, and it’s just fans being fans,” he told the Reno-Gazette Journal (http://tinyurl.com/kw5jben ).

Before he was removed from the building, Ciavola had tried to lead a group of about 50 UNLV fans around the perimeter of the court to chant “Rebels,” something he had done at last year’s game between the two teams.

He said they were stopped by a security guard or police officer who told them to return to the bleachers or they all would be thrown out of the game.

Ciavola says the fans returned to their seats but things got heated as UNR started tying up the game. “The section in front of us was flipping us off and throwing things at us - a water bottle and crushed up paper - and finally we gestured back at them,” he said.

Ciavola said that’s when a police officer removed him from the bleachers and the building. He said he was not detained or arrested.

“I was the leader of our group,” he said. “If you feel you have to escort someone out, you escort the leader, but multiple people on both sides were yelling and gesturing. None of the UNR fans were ejected for throwing things at us, but perhaps no one saw that.”

The tension between some UNR and UNLV fans began even before the game, when tweets were exchanged Friday from the UNLV undergraduate student body’s official account @UNLVCSUN and @Wolf_Pack_Probs, a non-UNR affiliated account. Fans of both teams joined in to fuel the fire.

Ziad Rashdan, president of UNR’s Associated Students, said he thinks the Twitter conversations helped lead to the conflict at the game.

“I think this was an isolated incident,” Rashdan said. “The ASUN and the university’s Athletic Department have really emphasized that we show respect for our sister institution when they are here in Reno and when we go down to UNLV.”

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Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com