Texas governor Greg Abbott's controversial reopening of the state and removal of its mask mandate has not been met by a rush to normalcy — at least not among certain sports entities in the state.
Texas-based universities Baylor and Stephen F. Austin both announced that they will continue to adhere to safety protocols as the pandemic continues. Four strains of the coronavirus have been reported in Texas, which has also been among states slow to roll out vaccination distribution.
As reported by ABC affiliate KXXV in Waco, the Baylor athletic department on Tuesday tweeted the following statement from vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Mack Rhoades: "As always, the health and well-being of the Baylor Family - our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans - are of primary importance. We will continue to monitor the ongoing circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and comply with recommendations of the university, Big 12 Conference, and the NCAA."
Meanwhile, SFA athletic director Ryan Ivey stated that for now, policies will remain in place to help keep spectators and student-athletes as safe as possible from COVID-19, according to ABC affiliate KLTV in Tyler. Ivey added that the hope is to return to pre-COVID conditions for fans once sports start back up in the fall.
“Right now, we are still keeping things as is until we change from a university and NCAA standpoint,” Ivey said. “We are beginning conversations on what the exit plan will be. We plan to be fully open in the fall.”
All SFA sporting events have seen limited attendance for games this year. Fans have also been asked to wear masks unless eating food in the venues. Tickets have been sold in pods, and all tickets are reserved seating, so social distancing is enforced, KLTV reported.