Thursday night at Gampel Pavilion, the Huskies upset No. 21 Houston on their senior night in one of the team’s biggest wins of the season. However, a lot of media attention went toward the three men from Barstool Sports who were there “chasing a storm.”
The three men, Adam Ferrone, Caleb Pressley and their producer Andrew Enriquez, who goes by “Chef Donnie,” were arrested and removed from the game early in the second half. All three were charged with criminal trespassing. Pressley and Enriquez were also getting charged with interfering with an officer.
Ferrone and Pressley, known by their fans as “Storm Chasers,” travel to basketball games across the country looking for a home underdog to upset a ranked opponent. As is customary in a lot of these upsets, they try to storm the court with the student section, hence why they call themselves Storm Chasers.
I spoke to Ferrone, who goes by “Rone,” shortly after they were released from the UConn Police Station Thursday night.
“We are on a country wide-journey called Storm Chasers. What we do is we go from campus to campus and we go to schools where there is likely to be a court storming, so like an unranked home team against a ranked opponent,” Ferrone said.
UConn wasn’t the first stop on their search, and in fact, it was their third in the northeast in three nights.
“Two nights ago we went to Rutgers and they stormed the court. They had the red carpet rolled out for us, they had us ready to go in the student section, it was amazing,” Ferrone said. “Then last night we went to Rhode Island and they took great care of us. They brought us on the court and in the front row of the student section. They didn’t storm the court, but it was still an awesome time.”
Rutgers upset No. 9 Maryland Tuesday night 78-67, prompting a court storming. URI, on the other hand, got blown out by No. 3 Dayton 84-57, so those fans left the game from their seats instead of from the hardwood.
“With those last two games being so big, tonight [Thursday] we had tons of people hitting us up from UConn telling us to come to the game,” Ferrone said.
According to Ferrone, they bought tickets to the game and had seats outside of the student section. University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz sent a press release Friday that confirmed they had tickets to the game, just not in the student section.
“Outside of the press release, we wouldn’t really comment because with the arrest situation, it would be a pending court case,” UConn Police Deputy Chief Andrew Fournier said. “So we’re going to stick to anything that’s contained in that press release.”
Apparently “All access” means nothing these days pic.twitter.com/ObbKz9g1da
— Chef Donny The Hurricane (@chefdonnyy) March 6, 2020
When I called UConn Athletics to ask questions, Assistant Director of Athletic Administration Dominic Godi also referred me to the press release.
“We bought our tickets, sat in our original seats, then came down to the seats they had reserved for us in the front row.” Ferrone said. “There were signs on each of our seats that said, ‘reserved for Barstool Sports.’”
Ferrone sent me a picture of the signs that were placed at their “reserved” seats at the front of the student section. It was a plain, white paper sign that said, “Reserved for Barstool” in all caps in a basic, black font. It is unclear who placed the signs there, but Ferrone said security told him, “Anybody could have made those signs.”
“This section is specifically reserved for currently enrolled UConn students, and not open to non-students,” according to UConn’s press release.
Ferrone claimed that he and his partner Caleb had been in contact with UConn students and members of the ticket office through direct messages on Twitter and Instagram to arrange seating for them in the student section.
“There was probably upwards of 100 DMs if you count my account and Caleb’s account,” Ferrone said. “So I’m not even sure who set out the signs that said ‘reserved for Barstool Sports,’ but it was there on the seats. We were in contact with multiple people.”
Ferrone refused to include the names of any of the people he or his partner were in contact with.
“We were trying to explain it to the cops that this had been set aside, but that’s where the misunderstanding fell into play. They said anybody could have made the signs that had reserved the seats for us,” Ferrone said. “I guess there was a misunderstanding within the department, because people from the ticketing department had invited us.”
When they were told that they were not allowed to be in the student section, the Storm Chasers refused to return to their seats. That was when they were placed under arrest.
“The men refused to leave the student section despite multiple requests from those officials and, eventually, despite direct instruction from UConn Police,” according to the press release. “They were placed under arrest and escorted to Gampel’s lower level below the stands, where two of the men then laid on the ground and made other attempts to resist officers.”
“On the way out there was some jostling and people fell down accidentally,” Ferrone said. “Our producer Donnie wound up going to the ground. He was just kind of holding on to his camera the entire time and did a beautiful job filming us. He wound up getting dragged out by his ankles.”
Donnie put the footage of the trio getting taken out of Gampel on the Storm Chasers social media pages. Donnie and Pressley were charged with interfering with an officer while Ferrone was not, and it appeared to be because they were the two who had gone to the ground.
Pressley joked, “Rone snitched in jail and got lesser charges than we did.”
Pressley said this won’t deter their dedication to further storm attempts.
“We’re married to the game, and we’re faithful,” Pressley said.
According to the press release, “Their motive for remaining in the seats and their identities as social media personalities were not a factor in the actions of the Gampel personnel, police, or on-site security officers. The matter would have been addressed similarly in the case of any non-student patron who took a seat in the student section and repeatedly refused requests to leave.”
The storm chasers also appeared to have at least one fake credential, which Donnie tweeted from his account the next day. The credential says that they were with the Daily Campus, which I can say with confidence they weren’t. The credential also doesn’t look similar to any credential UConn has given the press this year, and has the word “videography” spelled incorrectly.
“Again, none of us were being really combative, we don’t have a problem with the arresting officers. It just seemed like a total miscommunication,” Ferrone said. “Some people were telling us we were allowed to be there, some people were telling us that we weren’t allowed to be there.”
Ferrone also explained that the on-court emcee went over and sat down with them in the student section to let them know that the camera was going to cut to them soon and that they should amp the crowd up. Shortly after that was when security came, then soon after that the police.
The emcee, Conor Geary, refused to comment about the event and referred me to UConn Athletics, who referred me to the press release.
“All we wanted to do was just try to be good fans and rile up the student section,” Ferrone said. “We were driving around campus all day, people were just losing their shit for us.”
I also spoke with a couple of fans from the game were in or around the student section.
“They all came in and sat in the normal section across from the student section and then after, made their way over to our section and everyone went wild,” UConn student Jami Rivera said.
FREE THE STORMCHASERS pic.twitter.com/MayOUeD7c3
— Storm Chasers (@BSStormChasers) March 6, 2020
One fan said the student section chanted “let them go” when security and police wanted them out of the section. Footage of that is also on social media.
“The student body was amazing to us. There was an eruption when we got there. We weren’t there to cause trouble, we were there to cheer on the basketball team. That’s what we had been doing for the entire game up until that point,” Ferrone said. “We had come to an understanding, and we thought it would be the same as the other schools where we could just kind of go to the seats that were reserved for us.”
Though UConn beat Houston, there was not a court storming that night. It could be because upsetting a No. 21 team doesn’t necessarily warrant a court storming, especially when the winning team is a program with history as rich as UConn’s.
According to Ferrone, he was sent pictures from UConn students that security had locked arms in front of the student section to prevent a court storming. Due to the spread of coronavirus, teams didn’t shake hands after the game, so this could have been a precaution of that nature. It could also be because senior Christian Vital addressed the crowd for senior night.
Regardless, the only court that will be stormed is Rockville Superior Court, where the Storm Chasers will have their hearing.