Fall sporting events at the University of Kansas will take place without fans through the month of September, according to a statement from Chancellor Douglas Girod Monday afternoon.
This decision was made with the help of a Pandemic Medical Advisory Team created earlier this year, made up of nine of the region’s top public health officials. Their hope was to prioritize the health and safety of students at large by limiting their access to large gatherings, Girod said.
The football season will kick off Sept. 12 at home against Coastal Carolina. Girod said that tailgating will also not be permitted on campus for the game. This will be the first fall home game for Kansas.
“We know this is disappointing to those of you who planned to be on campus to root for the Jayhawks,” Girod said. “Our football, volleyball, soccer and cross country contests will not be the same without you there. But this is the right decision for our community at this time.”
Following the Big 12’s decision to go ahead with fall sports, Kansas athletic director Jeff Long previously said mid-August that the number of fans allowed at Kansas Athletics events — particularly football games — was a “moving target.”
Long initially said the target point for Kansas football games was set at 50% or less capacity, but was up to the discretion of the local health department.
“That has been a real challenge that our team has worked hard on behind the scenes as they’ve considered [different capacities],” Long said. “Once we know from [Douglas County] medical group what we’re allowed to do, then we’ll start informing our season ticket holders and donors about their seats and where they’ll be located.”
Girod said that they will continuously evaluate conditions to get fans back to events post September. Girod said KU will update fans before Kansas football’s second home game against Oklahoma State Oct. 3.
“It will undoubtedly be disappointing for our student-athletes to not have you cheering from the stands,” Girod said in the statement. ”So if you have the opportunity to interact with these remarkable young men and women when they aren’t competing, please tell them how much you appreciate their resilience amid all this uncertainty, and remind them how important they are to our university.”
Long followed up Girod's message with a statement of his own Monday addressing concerns from season ticket holders. Long said the ticket office started sending out season tickets Monday, and any plans to allow fans in the future will be contingent on further guidance from the local health department.
"The pause right now is related to the number of positive cases in our county, but once that number drops, we believe we have a plan in place that our county leadership will support," Long said.
Long added that the seat locations for season ticket holders may be moved to accommodate for social distancing.
"There is an old adage of walk before you run, and we believe if we begin without fans in-venue this September, we will have a greater chance to host fellow Jayhawks in a safe environment in October and hopefully throughout the academic year," Long said.
Braden Shaw contributed reporting.