LOGAN – On September 25th, the Mountain West Conference announced that college football would be played this fall, and about a week later the conference football scheduled was released, with Utah State University’s first football game of 2020 scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24th at Boise State.
When the MW announced a return to play, they said that fan attendance at games would be “determined by each member institution in accordance with state, county and local health ordinances in consultation with government officials.” Earlier this week, USU Director of Athletics John Hartwell announced that as many as 5,500 fans may be able to attend home football games in Logan.
“Yes, we are going to have fans,” Hartwell said during an interview on 106.9 The FAN. “As of (Monday) we are one of only four schools in the Mountain West that will have fans at all.”
Hartwell said Wyoming intends to allow approximately 7,000 fans, UNLV (in the new indoor stadium they share with the Las Vegas Raiders) will allow approximately 6,500 fans, and University of Nevada-Reno may allow up to 2,200 fans. Hartwell said physical distancing and masks will be requirements to attend. The university is still working through details with season ticket holders and how many members of the HURD will be allowed in the student section.
With Friday’s conference basketball schedule announcement from the Mountain West, also come questions about fan attendance in the Smith Spectrum.
“Yes, we will have fans in the Spectrum,” Hartwell added. “We’re still trying to work through those numbers. (They’ll be) a little more restrictive because, obviously, the risk of spread of the virus is higher in enclosed or indoor facilities than outdoor. We’re trying to see what that number is.”
He said another factor to consider is the fact that students will be away from campus for a solid two months after the school transitions to online learning from November 20th to January 19th.
“Our number may be down somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15-20% of (capacity) in an indoor building. So we’re trying to work through that as well.”
Since football players started reporting to campus in early June, the university has been conducting regular coronavirus tests of all student athletes, coaches and support staff. Over the course of the last four months, Hartwell said there have been 60 positive cases.
“That includes all student athletes across all sports, including coaching staff and staff members as well. Mike Williams and his staff and our training room have done an amazing job, as well as our team doctors and their close coordination with the Bear River Health District and our folks on campus.”
When the Mountain West announced the return to play for this fall, they announced that they would provide the means for its schools to conduct up to three tests a week. Those tests are starting to arrive in Logan and will ramp up as the football season gets closer. Every player, coach and staff member will be tested on the day before a game is to be played, and any who test positive will be isolated immediately.
AUDIO: Interview with USU Director of Athletics John Hartwell on 106.9 The FAN