Following Auburn’s last-second victory in the Iron Bowl Nov. 30 and the subsequent fan rush of the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium, something weird was left on the turf.
Monday morning, Scott McElroy, Ph. D., an associate professor with the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences at the university, met Director of Athletic Turf and Grounds Eric Kleypas on Pat Dye Field.
“I was looking at the destruction from everybody being on the field,” McElroy, who is not a member of the Turf Team, said. “It looked like somebody had thrown up rocks.”
But what McElroy and Kleypas had spotted were, in fact, cremated remains on the Auburn sideline at the 40-yard-line.
“There’s no way to know if they’re human remains or not,” McElroy said. “You just don’t know what it is. There’s bone there. There’s ash there… The turf has died.”
McElroy added cremated remains destroy the turf, so Auburn’s Turf Team will have to dig up the area and discard it.
“This is actually quite detrimental,” he said. “… the grass won’t grow in that area.”
McElroy and Kleypas suspect the remains were dumped when fans rushed the field after the Tigers’ last-second Iron Bowl victory.
“That seems the most probable,” McElroy said. “But who knows?”
Although McElroy was unsure if cremated remains had been left on the field before, his guess is it’s pretty likely.
“All Eric would say to me is, ‘This is more common than you would think,’” McElroy said. “I think, if I started calling around to all the other field managers (in the SEC), I’d guess this has happened to them before.”
But, McElroy continued, there are less detrimental places to dump cremated remains on campus.
“The mind of a great fan, I guess,” he said. “You can’t fault them from wanting to do something to honor their loved one.”