Greg Byrne: If Kickoff was Tomorrow, Bama Could Play at Home
University of Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne said Friday that if kickoff for the Crimson Tide's first home football game was tomorrow, the team would get the greenlight from the SEC to play in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The SEC outlined in early August the conditions for which it would postpone or cancel athletic events, including a clause that games could be called off if there were "campus-wide or local community positivity test rates that are considered unsafe by local
public health officials."
The somewhat vague language has left questions about how the Conference will treat the Capstone, where cases among the student body are decreasing compared to the beginning of the academic year, but more than 2,000 students have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last month.
In a Friday afternoon virtual meeting with members of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Byrne said he is in talks with other SEC coaches and Commissioner Greg Sankey several times a week, that the conference is aware of the case numbers at the University and that as the situation stands today, they would allow football to be played here in the Druid City.
"If it was played tomorrow, yes, we would be allowed to play," Byrne said Friday.
He added, though, that students, faculty and staff at the University and the entire Tuscaloosa community must remain vigilant, practice social distancing and wear masks so that the decline UA is seeing in positive cases among the student body continues.
"Greg Sankey and the staff of the SEC know what’s going on from a COVID standpoint, they’re watching the health care systems in our communities, and we need to see the cases decrease," Byrne said.
Byrne took to social media last month to speak out against photos shared of young people packed into lines to get into bars on the Tuscaloosa Strip who were not wearing masks or staying apart. He said Friday that compliance with state, municipal and University mandates aimed at slowing the spread of the virus seems to have improved significantly.
"I walk the campus a lot of mornings and when school first started, students weren't wearing face coverings around campus," Byrne said. "Now it's pretty rare to see people who don't wear face coverings, and our numbers are going down. There's a correlation between the two, and that's a good thing for us and for everybody's health and well-being."
Byrne also said although attendance at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be limited to 20 percent capacity when the Tide kicks off against Texas A&M on October 3rd, those restrictions could be reassessed if cases continue to decline.