HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall University is planning to allow fans in its football games if its plan gets approved by the local and state health officials.
Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick appeared on Wednesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and said he would feel comfortable coming to a game with the plan the athletics department has presented to Marshall health officials, Cabell-Huntington Health Department officials and state health leaders.
“We can socially distance our fans in our stadium, wear a mask and people can come and watch Marshall football, but your capacity is probably going to be in the 25 to 30 percent capacity range,” Hamrick said.
Marshall is scheduled to open the season at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in less than three weeks on September 5 against Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). The capacity of the stadium is just over 38,000, meaning a planned 25-30 percent capacity would be between 9,500 and 11,400 fans.
Hamrick said the university’s plan would also make changes to tailgating and guidelines for fans during the game. He said the school will enforce the rule of groups being no more than 25 people and he said the hours of tailgating would be cut down.
Marshall also plans not to allow fans to enter the game once they have left the stadium.
Anticipation was through the roof for Marshall’s home schedule before the pandemic hit, according to Hamrick, with non-conference games against Pitt and Boise State.
Between those two games is a rescheduled game at East Carolina, now slated to be September 12 instead of August 29.
“Every minute of every day changes,” Hamrick said of the fluid situation with COVID-19. “I can honestly tell you in the last three weeks I have went home at night and laid my head on the pillow and said ‘We are going to play so and so on this date here, we are going to play so and so there, and then the next day it changes,” Hamrick said.
Hamrick does not anticipate any more changes to Marshall’s schedule, leaving the Herd with 10 games. Conference-USA foe Old Dominion announced earlier in August it was canceling its fall sports season, opening the door for Marshall to add a conference game with a school already on its schedule.
“I think we have backed off on that a little bit,” Hamrick said of a plan to schedule a home and home series with a conference opponent this season.
“We are trying to determine if some of us just want to play seven conference games and some of us play eight conference games.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) August 19, 2020