NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt University announced Friday it would begin the fall athletics season without spectators at home events through the end of October.
Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director Candice Lee said health and safety concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic drove the decision to delay fan access.
“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 in a news release. “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.
“We understand the impact this decision to compete without spectators has on both our fan base and our student-athletes, but this is the right thing to do for us because of the current challenges posed by COVID-19. Given factors in play at Vanderbilt, such as playing in the heart of a city, we feel this decision is in the best interest of our students, fans, game day staff, and the greater Nashville community."
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.
“We will continue to consult with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and our local public health experts to evaluate the evolving conditions of this pandemic and make determinations for future events. This has been an incredibly disruptive period, especially for our student-athletes and the coaches and staff who support them, yet we have worked extremely hard over the past few months to adapt to our rapidly changing circumstances,” Lee said.
Fans who purchased season tickets will soon be receiving communication from the Vanderbilt Athletics ticket office regarding refund options for the upcoming season.
Tennessee is scheduled to play Vanderbilt in Nashville on Nov. 28.