Notebook: The power is in the hands of Cyclone fans

Athletic Director Jamie Pollard addressing the media.

Stephen Mcdaniel

Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard spoke with the media Monday afternoon to address questions that were mainly directed toward Iowa State allowing 25,000 fans into Jack Trice Stadium for the first football game of the year.

Prior to speaking with the media, Pollard also released another letter to the fans, where he outlined the decision to have fans and the guidelines that fans will have to comply with.

Fans will decide their attendance for future games

One of the major talking points was Iowa State’s decision to allow fans into Jack Trice for the Cyclones’ season opener against Louisiana on Sept. 12. The plan is to allow 25,000 fans into the stadium, but the plan is currently only for the season opener.

Pollard really hammered home how the fans will be the ones that will determine how fan attendance will be dealt with for the remaining home games for the 2020 season.

Pollard outlined the precautions that Iowa State will be taking, such as requiring all fans inside the stadium to wear a form of face covering, whether it be face masks, gaiters or face shields. Another big thing is that Iowa State will not be allowing any kind of tailgating on university-owned lots.

It was made clear that Iowa State will be relying on fans following these protocols if they wanted to continue to allow fans into future home games.

“Our ability to have success with this plan is going to be almost 100 percent contingent upon our fans complying,” Pollard said. “[…] Those fans that have chosen to still come to the games need to come to the games knowing that our expectation is 100 percent compliance with everything we’ve put out.”

It was mentioned that things like having people outside the stadium tailgating will be policed and that it would be up to police how things will be enforced inside the stadium. In order to even enter the stadium, fans must have face coverings on the proper way or else they’ll be denied entrance.

If Iowa State’s plan fails or some fans show they can’t comply with the previously outlined mitigation measures, Iowa State won’t be allowing fans into any future home games after the season opener against Louisiana.

Pollard urged fans to respect each other and try to remain in their seats throughout the game in order to avoid large numbers of people in the concourse area.

“I’ll have personally zero, zero tolerance for any fan that doesn’t comply,” Pollard said. “I don’t care how much money they give this institution, if you want to be in the stadium, you’re going to have to comply with what we put together. If you don’t do it, we don’t want you here.”

A “threading the needle” decision

The decision to have fans for football was commonly referenced by Pollard as “threading the needle.”

Pollard credited Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen and her leadership team for helping with assessing the data and helping make the collective agreement to continue to try to thread that needle.

“[…] As you continue to thread that needle, some people are going to be extremely happy and some people are going to be extremely disappointed,” Pollard said.

The decision made Monday allowed 25,000 fans to enter the stadium for football, but Pollard brought up that 25,000 wasn’t a magic number. The number correlates roughly to how many football season ticket holders there are, with an estimated 5,000 of those season ticket holders being students.

In order to help with social distancing, current ticket holders will be reseated around the stadium and may not have tickets for the usual area that they’ve had tickets for in past seasons.

But Pollard also mentioned that 25,000 wasn’t set in stone and could be subject to change depending on how fans react to the new guidelines they will have to adhere to come football season.

“If 5,000 more people opt out because they don’t like their seats or they’re not comfortable with our mitigation, then our number will be 20,000,” Pollard said.

It was also mentioned that Iowa State isn’t planning on selling additional tickets for home football games and that if any of the 25,000 fans that still hold tickets opts out and refunds their tickets, Iowa State won’t try reselling those tickets to other fans.

Pollard also brought up that if more data comes out that shows any kind of non-compliance with current rules or shows a radical spike in COVID-19 cases, they could implement the plans for having no fans at football games.

The 53-man roster policy

Another point brought up in Pollard’s talk with the media is how teams in the Big 12 will be operating throughout the season.

Pollard said Big 12 teams are operating under the “53-man roster policy.” This policy requires players to be tested and certified to play. Teams that have at least 53 players approved and meet the minimum player requirements for each position will be allowed to play.

“It was a uniform policy that we wanted to adopt to, in essence, make some gamesmanship out of what could happen potentially later in the year,” Pollard said.

If teams aren’t able to meet the requirements of the 53-man roster policy, then the schools in question would have two options.

The first option would be to try and reschedule the game to another bye week. If that doesn’t work, then the second option is to have the game labeled as a no contest. Games ending in a no contest would not go against the team that ended up in the no contest.

This policy will also be applied to Louisiana, who is slated as Iowa State’s only non-conference opponent. The Big 12 will send an agency to Louisiana to administer the player certification test before its way out to Jack Trice Stadium.