Vanderbilt has just announced in an article posted to VUCommodores.com that spectators will not be present at home games through October.
Candice Lee is quoted in the article: “Our student-athletes and coaching staffs are ready to compete and win in the best conference in the nation, but we recognize that we have to do so in our ‘new normal’ environment, where we need to focus on keeping everyone as healthy and safe as possible,” Lee said. “Playing without fans allows us to concentrate all of our energies on our student-athletes and minimize scenarios that could jeopardize their health and safety, and their ability to complete the season.
While I despise the phrase “new normal”, nothing about this is normal or sustainable, this certainly does not come as a surprise. Vanderbilt faces a unique situation in the SEC. They are located in a city more than double the population of the next largest (Lexington) and have a much more geographically diverse student population.
Vanderbilt, and SEC fans, need to keep in mind that a majority of this decision was likely outside of university control. Being located in Nashville, as opposed to Knoxville, Starkville, or Oxford, creates a much more complex situation where politics are at play in a significant fashion.
Information on the plans for a “gameday experience” was also provided in the article, kind of: “Fans will have access to virtual programming for home football games, including a virtual tailgate, live pregame show, and opportunities to win exclusive prizes and connect with Commodore Nation. Details will be provided leading up to the home opener on Oct. 3 against LSU. In addition, Vanderbilt will collaborate with the newly formed Commodore Fan Council to keep Vanderbilt fans connected to our teams.”