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Big Ten Modifies Attendance Policies To Reflect Local Guidelines

The Big Ten has modified its regular-season attendance policies for remaining spring competitions to reflect local health guidelines and restrictions, the conference announced Wednesday.

The Big Ten said its decision was made jointly by the conference’s athletic directors, presidents, and chancellors, as well as university medical experts and the conference office.

The conference took a big step toward normalcy when it let fans attend its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in early March. Now, as vaccine distribution rises and COVID-19 case numbers begin to fall, the Big Ten is letting schools make decisions that align with their own communities.

“The goal is to transition from a conference-wide approach to local decision-making in consultation with public health departments and university medical experts,” the conference said in a statement.

The Big Ten said all competitions will continue following social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines regardless of location.

“Procedures for all remaining 2020-21 Big Ten championships, tournaments and regular season competitions will be designed to meet local and CDC guidelines to help limit the spread of COVID-19 as the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, officials, fans and campus communities remain our highest priority,” the conference said.

Under current Pennsylvania guidelines, outdoor venues can host events at 20% capacity. That’ll get bumped up to 50% on April 4, according to Governor Tom Wolf’s latest relaxation on mitigation efforts.

In theory, Pennsylvania’s current guidelines could let Penn State bring fans into venues. However, under state policy, stricter local restrictions take precedence.

State College’s ordinance that enforces mask-wearing and prohibits large gatherings currently remains in effect through the end of May. Penn State started enforcing the ordinance on applicable parts of campus (read: the chunks that aren’t in College Township) last fall and would likely need to reevaluate its own guidelines, too.

Penn State Athletics did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether or not its attendance policies will change this spring. Currently, general admission fans are not permitted at sporting events, and tickets to games aren’t for sale.

It’s worth noting, however, that Penn State has appeared open to bringing fans back to its venues so far this spring. For example, the Class of 2024 will head to Beaver Stadium in April to watch the Nittany Lions’ final spring practice. Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour reiterated she and her staff are “pushing really hard” to fill stadiums next fall.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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