Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson talks about the new talent coming to USM on Signing Day at the Hilton in Jackson Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2020.

Mississippi Clarion Ledger

When college football returns, Saturdays at the Rock won’t look the same.

The Southern Miss athletic department is putting together a plan for fans to enter into stadiums in a safe and secure manner for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletic director Jeremy McClain said the university’s health department is assisting in the effort.

“I think the main thing for us is if we get the green light and we feel comfortable with coming back, we’ve got a plan,” McClain said. “It’s not going to be come back and business as usual. We’ve got a plan, and we’re working to fine tune that plan on how you clean up after practice, how do you handle the locker room, how do you clean your shoulder pads?”

A view of M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Miss. prior to Southern Miss’ 2018 season opener. (Photo: Nick Suss)

McClain said safety is the top priority.

“It’s just going to look different than before,” he said.

Every traditional game-day interaction, down to high-fiving fans, will be reviewed, according to McClain.

“As we lead up to the season, I think people are going to be on high alert and we’re going to take every precaution to protect everybody,” McClain said. “I think the events with a large crowd, or where there’s going to be a lot of people around, are either going to not happen in that way or it’s going to look very different.”

No inflated prices

Despite losing approximately $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, McClain said he doesn’t anticipate season-ticket  prices to increase to make up for the previous losses.

“We’re just going have to tighten our belts and understand that we probably will have a dip in revenue next year,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to address that now. We’re trying to create a budget in FY2021 that is much lesser on the expense side knowing revenues are going to be down going into the year.”

McClain said the staff is going through eight to 10 scenarios of what to be prepared for based off how many season tickets are sold. 

“The biggest challenge right now is trying to provide answers in a situation that’s so fluid,” he said.


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