Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told athletic directors from the state’s largest schools to expect 50 percent capacity at football games this fall, USA Today reported, but Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork is remaining optimistic.
With more than 80 days to Texas A&M’s first scheduled game against Abilene Christian at Kyle Field, Bjork said this is no time for absolutes when determining college attendance in the late summer and fall, based on the global pandemic.
“As of today, we still have time on our side,” Bjork said Saturday. “And we will not make decisions based on incomplete information.”
USA Today reported that Abbott met with the dozen athletic directors from the state’s Football Bowl Subdivision programs via teleconference Friday, and “told them not to expect capacity at their stadiums to be above 50 percent this fall.”
“The governor was very gracious with his time and provided us with insights into the current situation,” Bjork responded Saturday. “It’s disappointing that information from the meeting leaked since the discussion was meant to be confidential, and I will not disclose the details of the conversation and violate Gov. Abbott’s trust.”
Bjork, hired by A&M a year ago from the same position at Mississippi, added: “As we’ve learned throughout this unprecedented situation, everything remains fluid, and there are a number of scenarios for attending upcoming pro and college sporting events.”
Bjork has expressed confidence this month that Kyle Field might be near its capacity of more than 100,000 as the fall schedule presses on. The Aggies are scheduled to host ACU on Sept. 5 in coach Jimbo Fisher’s third season.
Emphasis mine, and the Chron has a separate story expanding on Bjork’s rather optimistic hypothesis. Abbott had previously stated that he expected college football to be played, though he didn’t specify at what capacity the stadia might be. I will remind you that at this point, all of the professional sports leagues, from the ones that are now playing to those that are still planning their comebacks, are playing in empty arenas. It’s impossible for me to square that with the likes of Kyle Field at full capacity. They can’t both be right.
And on that note, we have this:
The University of Houston abruptly halted voluntary workouts Friday after six student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19.
In a release, UH said it was suspending workouts – which began June 1 with football and men’s and women’s basketball – “out of an abundance of caution.” The school said the six symptomatic student-athletes had been placed in isolation and contract tracing procedures have been initiated.
The announcement comes nearly two weeks since voluntary workouts began and as the Houston area has seen a recent surge in positive tests for COVID-19.
UH becomes the first school to suspend athletic activities since the NCAA cleared the return of student-athletes back to campus following a nearly three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
UH only tested student-athletes that showed symptoms or came from areas that had a high number of positive cases, a person with knowledge of the protocol told the Houston Chronicle earlier this week. Athletic officials have declined comment.
In other words, there are others they didn’t test that might possibly be positive as well. The story lists fourteen other schools that have reported athletes with positive COVID-19 tests, including three in the SEC. It is very likely that all of these athletes will recover fully – I certainly hope they all do – and now that they have been tested they can be quarantined so as not to pass the virus on to anyone else. UH is the only school in this story that actually stopped its voluntary workouts as a result of this, which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. My point here is that whatever the likes of Greg Abbott and Ross Bjork may say or do, they ultimately have very little control over this virus. And as I keep saying, they don’t seem to have much of a plan for it, either.
Several Texans and Cowboys players have tested positive for COVID-19, including Dallas star running back Ezekiel Elliott, according to the NFL Network.
The players who tested positive reportedly weren’t in attendance at their team facilities, which have remained closed due to NFL restrictions limiting their use only to rehabilitating injured players during this global pandemic. Both teams have followed medical protocols.
NFL teams, including the Texans, have taken steps to ensure the safety of players, coaches and staff. The Texans created a new position, hiring a facility hygiene coordinator earlier this offseason. The Texans are believed to be the first professional sports team to add this type of specialized position.
The intention is to minimize the risk factor of getting or spreading COVID-19 and supervise the custodial staff, which is provided by Aramark.
I know, that’s NFL, not NCAA. My point is, it’s not just a question of whether or not it’s safe to have fans in the stands. There’s still the little matter of whether it’s actually safe to have the players practice and play together.