Iowa State University is about to open the 2020 football season and the pressure is on — fans.
ISU's Jamie Pollard, the first athletic director in the nation to impose department-wide pay cuts to combat revenue losses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, laid down the law Monday in a letter to fans. When the Cyclones host Louisiana on Sept. 12, 25,000 season-ticket holders will be allowed to enter 61,500-seat Jack Trice Stadium. If they respect safety measures that include refraining from all tailgating, mask-wearing at all times in the stadium, and respecting "other fans' wishes for physical distancing," fans will again be permitted when Iowa State hosts Oklahoma on Oct. 3. If they don't, no fans will be allowed the rest of the season.
"An important factor in the decision to allow fans is our belief that Cyclone fans are willing to adhere to our mitigation measures," Pollard wrote, as reported by Sports Illustrated. "The purpose of this letter is to ask for your support in helping create a safe environment while also providing our team an impactful home field advantage. This is an incredible opportunity for Iowa State University to showcase its ability to successfully navigate the challenges associated with large outdoor events during a pandemic."
The stakes are high for Iowa State, too. As of late Monday, The New York Times identified Ames as the top coronavirus hot spot in the country. With a population of 97,117, Ames had 964 cases in the last two weeks — an infection rate of 8.2 cases per 1,000 residents.
Enforcement at the season opener will include denial of entry or removal for anyone refusing to wear a mask.
According to SI, Iowa State began holding in-person classes on Aug. 17 and has no current plans to move to online-only classes.