SMU's Student Section Cleared Out for Not Following COVID-19 Protocols

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2020

Gerald J Ford Stadium is shown before the NCAA First Responder Bowl college football game between Western Michigan and Western Kentucky in Dallas, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

SMU upset No. 25 Memphis on Saturday with a dramatic 30-27 victory, but students were not able to enjoy it from the confines of the student section.

According to Sam Blum of the Dallas Morning News, police cleared the entire student section in the first half of Saturday's game after they did not follow COVID-19 protocols.

SMU guidelines require all students to be wearing masks while social distancing on the hill beyond the end zone, which allows a maximum of 1,000 students. However, Blum reported the crowd "had become very large" and the "vast majority" of students were not wearing masks.

This week's game was the fourth of the season for SMU, with last week's win against Stephen F. Austin representing the first home game at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.

Director of athletics Rick Hart sent a letter indicating that security would be "significantly increased" for Saturday's game against Memphis after some spectators failed to follow protocols last week:

"Whether you attended in person or watched online, you could see that the majority of fans in the stadium behaved responsibly and were socially-distanced and masked. That said, we will be working to adjust the behavior of a small subsection of fans who did not follow our pledge to protect, which was sent to all ticketholders."

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Texas has had more cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days than any other state in the United States, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SMU squandered a 24-3 first-half lead Saturday as Memphis eventually evened the game at 27-27 heading into the fourth quarter. The Mustangs eventually pulled out the win on a Chris Naggar field goal with nine seconds left in the game.

The 4-0 squad has a week off before facing Tulane on the road on Oct. 16. SMU won't return home until the homecoming game against Cincinnati on Oct. 24.