Could Tennessee Football have fans in attendance and not Vanderbilt?
There is a current possibility where Tennessee football and the rest of the SEC could have fans in attendance, and Vanderbilt could not.
In multiple ways, Vanderbilt has been the outcast of the SEC for much of its time since joining the conference. That could continue in 2020 if Tennessee football and the rest of the SEC has fans in attendance in the fall, and Vanderbilt does not.
So far, Vanderbilt is following the path that the SEC has set forth for players and staff returning to campus for voluntary workouts, so there aren’t any hiccups in that department so far, but that could change when it comes to if fans could be in attendance for Vanderbilt football games.
Vanderbilt Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee commented on the possibility of having fans in attendance for not only Vandy games but games throughout the country, and ultimately, it comes down to how local cities are doing with COVID-19 this fall.
“Everybody is dealing with their own factors,” Lee said, “so I think we have to be realistic that everybody may not be in the same place come the fall … Clearly, local context matters.”
Nashville has been a hot spot for COVID-19, so if that is still the case in the fall, then we could see the rest of the SEC in cities that aren’t as bad as Nashville allows fans in the stadium at some capacity.
Even if the state of Tennessee and the SEC allow fans in the stadium, we could see an empty Vanderbilt stadium for much, if not all, of the 2020 season. I still think that Vandy could get away with 25% fan attendance because that would adhere to social distancing, and there aren’t many games where more than 25% of the stadium is full anyway.
“I don’t think any of us are really spending time modeling that (college football not happening), because that’s financially pretty catastrophic,” Lee said. “I think people are thinking about the possibility of having reduced capacity at your venues and how we respond to that. We’ll be nimble. You just have to be. There are so many questions and there’s not enough answers right now.”
It looks like Vanderbilt won’t be making a decision until well into the summer. Late July or early August will likely be when that decision is made. September 5th is when Mercer comes to Nashville, and the Commodores start their season, so a decision will definitely need to be made by then.
The SEC’s lone private school in the conference isn’t anticipating the football season not to happen this fall, but it could happen with no fans in the stadium for Vanderbilt.