West Virginia Director of Athletics Shane Lyons has plans for the 2021 football season.
After a season that saw games with zero general public fans and then only 25-percent, the plan is to open things back up and return to normal.
“We’re planning on 100-percent capacity and I hope that’s the situation we’re in next year,” he said.
That is made possible by the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and the advancements that have been made on that front over the past couple months. Granted planning and actually following through are two different concepts, but there is confidence that things will settle back to normal this fall.
“The vaccine has given us a little hope as we go through,” Lyons said.
It goes without saying that the plan could be adjusted but for now it is full steam ahead when it comes to preparing season ticket packages and other items that come with a typical off-season. The goal is to have 60,000 West Virginia fans inside the stadium when the season begins.
Lyons understood the frustration from the fanbase with the limited capacity, but it was a decision that they didn’t take lightly. It was a joint outcome made by not only the department of athletics, but the university at large and the health department to limit the number of spectators.
That made things difficult when other states and areas of the country handled the situation differently and permitted large groups of fans than what the Mountaineers did. But each situation is unique and ultimately Lyons believes that they handled it the best that they could.
“It was everybody coming together to say what’s the best for our community,” he said.
And while the decision wasn’t popular with some, it did ensure that the student athletes would be able to play out their seasons.
“We took some darts from people that felt we should have had more but looking back it was rewarding to turn on the TV and say, ‘I’m watching the football game or I’m watching another basketball game’ and we were continuing to play,” Lyons added.
With the decision in place to return to a normal fall in regard to capacity, the next question becomes what will the public confidence be in doing so?
That won’t be answered until later this summer, but for now the Mountaineers are prepared to turn the page and move forward with what we’ve all become accustomed to on Saturday’s in the fall.
“Hopefully the fall 2021 season looks better than the fall 2020 season,” Lyons said.