Morgantown, West Virginia – Why is it that every other football program in the Big 12 Conference can have attendance of some kind in their stadiums but West Virginia University cannot?
Leadership. Or lack thereof.
How can Texas, with its 95,000+ seat stadium in Austin, have 25% attendance safely when it’s impossible to do so in Morgantown?
West Virginia University continues to be behind the rest of the country in terms of common sense measures. In a stadium with a capacity of 60,000 fans, Milan Puskar Stadium could certainly safely seat 12,000 fans (20% capacity) without any concern of the spread of the virus.
Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said the following in the press release from West Virginia University Sports: “I understand it’s a disappointing decision but it’s the correct one. We have to do what’s best for the safety of the University and our local community. Our plans for a socially distanced seating manifest in the stadium have been ready for some time, but we need conditions to improve on campus and in the community before we can proceed. I encourage everyone to test when the opportunity to do so is made available.”
In other words, the plan has been ready for some time, but the university is unable to execute it. An open-air, spacious stadium is far safer and less likely to spread the disease than closed spaces, such as schools, stores, etc., and this “distanced seating manifest” that Lyons mentions is absolute nonsense. The simple solution is to require fans to wear masks, spread out 6 feet apart and not allow tailgating. Essentially, everything that everyone else in the country is already doing!
Lyons continued: “I continue to ask Mountaineer Nation for its understanding. We are doing everything possible to have fans at our home football games this season, and I can assure you that our players, coaches and department staff want that to happen. Taking aggressive and appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of this virus along with regular testing remains the key for all of us.”
To begin, Mr. Lyons, you are not doing “everything you can to have fans at games this season”, or they would have been at the home opener against Eastern Kentucky. Your actions, while commendable, have not prevented any spread at all. Like many places around the country, you can safely have football with fans by following the simple, common sense guidelines that have been outlined by doctors: Stay 6 feet apart and wear a mask. The measures you’re taking, Shane, are not only aggressive, they are irrational.
As Dr. George Camp said on The Voice of Motown’s social media account: “This makes absolutely no sense in an outside environment where numbers and spacing can be regulated by ticket allotment. Precaution? No. Fear and lack of any leadership? Yes.”
The WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, in conjunction with University, local and state officials, has determined that football's Big 12 Conference home opener against Baylor on Oct. 3 will take place without spectators at Milan Puskar Stadium.https://t.co/UqE3AfoIyc
— WVU Sports (@WVUSports) September 21, 2020