UT Chancellor Donde Plowman is hopeful Tennessee will play football this season.
But even if the Vols do proceed as planned, it will be without a gameday staple.
“If we do play football, we won’t have tailgating on campus,” Plowman said in a livestreamed student update.
Plowman offered comments on the delayed, but rapidly approaching football season. She admitted there are many lingering unanswered questions, but shed light on the tailgating situation and possible attendance changes at Neyland Stadium.
“If they do (play), it will not be to a full stadium and there will likely be significant reduced capacity,” Plowman said.
Vols athletic director Phillip Fulmer told WNML in July that UT “had tons of conversations” about gameday experiences such as tailgating, the band and the Vol Walk.
“I would like to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, we’ve figured it out,'” Fulmer said. “But, again, it gets back to the safety factor of the people that want to come to the games, enjoy the game. We have to be smart about what we do.”
Plowman’s comments came amid a tumultuous week for college football. The Big Ten and Pac-12 elected to not play football this fall. The Pac-12 postponed all athletics until Jan. 1, 2021.
The SEC still plans to play based on multiple statements from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.
“I look forward to learning more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 leadership to take these actions today,” Sankey said in a Wednesday statement. “I remain comfortable with the thorough and deliberate approach that the SEC and our 14 members are taking to support a healthy environment for our student-athletes. We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day.”
The SEC delayed the start date for when teams may begin preseason football practice to Aug. 17, the conference announced Aug. 4.
The NCAA previously had outlined that teams were allowed to begin practice on Aug. 7, but the SEC chose to push back the start of practice by 10 days. That move followed the late July decision by the SEC to bump back teams’ season openers by three weeks to Sept. 26.
The SEC opted for a 10-game conference-only schedule in 2020, punting the usual schedule of eight SEC games and four non-conference games.
News Sentinel reporter Monica Kast contributed to this report.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.