Louisiana State University (LSU) has been forced to hire a bodyguard for star gymnast and TikTok sensation Olivia Dunne after the team’s season opener in Utah last week was swarmed by rowdy fans.
The NY Post reports Dunne’s coach, Jay Clark, said a security officer will be posted outside the team locker room and at their hotels when the team travels.
“That (bodyguard) will be in our hotel and outside our locker room and getting us to and from the bus at the venue,” Clark told the Advocate/Times-Picayune.
“(The officer) will be there to create a perimeter that keeps everybody safe.
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“We want to be accessible to our fans with autographs and kids, but we also don’t want to bury our heads in the sand. We want to make sure everybody is safe at all times.”
LSU is considering changing its policy on how accessible the athletes are to fans, the paper reported.
“We are going to change some of the policies of allowing the girls to go into the stands immediately following a meet,” Clark said.
“We’ve always allowed them to go up there post-meet with their families and interact with them.
“We want to make sure we still provide them with that time with their families, but there won’t be any more going into the stands and there will be a limited amount of time that they can interact with the fans in the stands over the rail and that will be monitored closely.”
“I could see things beginning to get bigger.
“We wanted to get ahead of it, but we didn’t see what happened last week coming as big as it’s been. It’s been bubbling under the surface for a year now.”
During the team’s season opener last Friday at the University of Utah, unruly fans carrying signs and cutouts of Dunne chanted for her throughout the meet, despite her being out with an injury. The antics disrupted other athletes’ routines.
Afterwards, a video circulated of a large group of males lined up outside the arena chanting “We want her” and Dunne’s name repeatedly while waiting to see her exit the arena.
Former Olympic gymnast and current TV analyst Samantha Peszek recorded the video, and called the group “actually so scary and disturbing and cringey” in her caption.
According to KSL.com Sports, LSU had to move its team bus to avoid the group of boys.
The mother of Jillian Hoffman, a gymnast on Utah’s team, posted on social media that she saw fans acting in a disrespectful manner in the stands.
She also claimed fans made derogatory comments toward her daughter, calling her “Livvy 2.0.”
With 6.7 million followers on TikTok and 2.8 million followers on Instagram, Dunne, the 20-year-old Hillsdale, NJ, native, is one of the most prominent athletes in college sports.
According to On3, Dunne, a junior, is the highest-paid female athlete in college sports, raking in A$3.2 million.
After the meet in Utah, Dunne spoke out about the incident.
“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 tweeted. LSU next plays at the University of Kentucky before returning for its home opener on Monday against Oklahoma.
This article originally appeared in the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.