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With the first day of school fast approaching, athletics officials at major Texas universities are moving forward with a fall football season, planning to bring thousands of fans back to stadiums. University officials are finalizing stadium capacity and attendance details that they say will keep both athletes and fans safe.
This comes as Texas is still combating high hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, and as health officials continue to encourage people to keep distance from each other to prevent the spread of the virus.
Earlier this month, the NCAA released guidelines intended to protect collegiate athletes, while expressing “serious concerns about the continuing high levels of COVID-19 infection in many parts of the nation.”
The NCAA’s three divisions have cancelled their fall sports championships. But the NCAA doesn’t govern championships in the top tier of college football, known as the Football Bowl Subdivision. Two major conferences in that division — the Big 10 and Pac 12 — have cancelled their seasons. But universities belonging to the Big 12 Conference – including those in Texas – received the green light from officials to begin the season Sept. 26. The Southeastern Conference, which includes Texas A&M University, has also indicated it plans to play.
Here’s where some of the biggest Texas conference schools stand.
How many fans will be allowed to attend?
The latest directive from Gov. Greg Abbott limits occupancy to no more than 50% of a stadium’s capacity. Many athletics officials initially seized on that number, including University of Texas at Austin Athletics Director Chris Del Conte. With a capacity of 100,000, UT-Austin’s Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium could potentially seat up to 50,000 fans.