With COVID-19 concerns lingering across college football, especially in the south, decisions will need to be made in the coming weeks on the matter of fan attendance. Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne recently spoke about such concerns and shared that he still plans to have Bryant-Denny Stadium at full capacity come the Crimson Tide’s Sept. 11 home opener against Mercer.
Byrne also shared some very high vaccination numbers throughout the schools athletic department.
“We are planning on full capacity, we’re planning on having tailgating and all those different things,” Byrne said to radio host Eli Gold on Thursday. “And at the same time, we still hope that people will do what they can to make it as safe as possible. We’re really proud as an athletic department. We’re at 91.85 percent vaccinated as of a couple of days ago — all told, all our teams.
“Football, Coach Saban’s been very vocal about it. We’re at 99.5 percent. And what we’ve tried to do is say, ‘Hey, we’re doing it. We’re setting an example, we’re trying to lead and encourage.’ Have people had any side effects? Sure, from time to time there’s been some. But I go right back at them and say, ‘Man, I had COVID, and it kicked my tail for two and a half months and was like nothing I’ve ever dealt with before. I don’t wanna deal with that again.’
“So as soon as I was eligible, I went and got vaccinated, and I’m very glad that I did. We’ve tried to do all we can to encourage that and say that it’s safe. We’ve got great scientists and doctors, and our entire medical team said that’s the right thing to do and we’ve been following their guidance.”
The state of Alabama currently is not requiring any attendees to provide any proof of vaccination or a negative test in order to enter the stadium.
Later in the interview, Byrne made it clear that anyone experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms are urged to remain at home, while the state of Alabama’s mask mandate is up in the air.
“Obviously, if people are having any symptoms at all from a COVID standpoint, we need them to stay home,” Byrne said. “Be very clear about that. Right now, the university has an indoor mask mandate if you’re in an indoor space. So if you come in Mal Moore right now, you’re seeing a lot of masks, as you could imagine. Right now, that expires before the start of the season, and I haven’t been updated on anything changing other than just having the expiration.
“But we’re excited to get everybody together and certainly need everybody, if they’re feeling poorly in any manner, to stay home from the game and protect everybody else.”
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Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77