Notre Dame athletic director opposes possibility of college football games played with no fans


The cancellation of spring practice, suspension of football-related activities and uncertainty surrounding the 2020 college football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused administrators to think outside the box when discussing how to proceed when things crank back up. One of the most widely-discussed options — not just in college football but all sports across the board — is the idea of playing games as scheduled without fans inside the stadiums. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick isn’t a fan, telling ESPN that he’s not keen on that particular option at all.

“I don’t see a model where we play, at least any extended number of games, in facilities where we don’t have fans,” he said. “College football is about the cheerleaders and the band and the campus environment on game day. We’re interested in solutions that allow us to have a traditional game-day experience.”

While Swarbrick did voice his opposition to the idea of a full season being played in silence, he did concede that it might be necessary to make some concessions early in the season if the coronavirus outbreak continues.

“There might be a middle ground where you say, the first two games of the season, you might have to make some accommodations,” he said. “Maybe you only have students in attendance and you don’t invite other fans. I couldn’t see us going past a very limited example of that.”

One very important question through all of this centers around the players themselves. If COVID-19 is a threat to fans inside stadiums on game day, it would also be a threat to players who wouldn’t be able to practice proper social distancing during games or practice during the week. If games do take place without fans, it would send a clear message that the financial solvency of athletic departments is dependent on football games being played at some point during the 2020-21 academic year. CBS Sports senior writer Dennis Dodd wrote last month that roughly 80 percent of FBS athletic budgets are made up of football revenue.

There have been more than 1.4 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and more than 80,000 deaths over the last five months due to the pandemic. More than 12,000 people inside of the United States have died from infection.





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