Texas A&M’s Ross Bjork remains positive about the upcoming football season a day after news leaked that Gov. Greg Abbott told him and the state’s other 11 FBS athletic directors that it’s highly unlikely sports venues will be allowed to hold more than 50% capacity at games this fall because of the coronavirus.
“As we have learned throughout this unprecedented situation, everything remains fluid and there are a number of scenarios for attending upcoming pro and college sporting events,” Bjork said Saturday. “We continue to remain optimistic and will make sure our plans are as safe as possible for everyone involved.”
A&M’s football season opener is Sept. 5 against Abilene Christian at Kyle Field, which seats 102,733. If the reported 50% capacity for venues from Friday’s Zoom teleconference between Abbott and the ADs comes to fruition, the Aggies would be limited to 51,366 fans. Last year A&M averaged 101,608 fans for seven home games to rank fourth in the country.
“The governor was very gracious with his time and provided us with insights into the current situation,” Bjork said. “It is disappointing that information from the meeting leaked since the discussion was meant to be confidential, and I will not disclose the details of the conversation and violate Gov. Abbott’s trust.”
Bjork has maintained a positive, patient approach during the COVID-19 pandemic. The season opener is 83 days away.
“As we get closer to the start of the season, plans and decisions will become more clear, and when circumstances allow, we will communicate accurate information to our 12th Man Foundation donors, season-ticket holders and students,” Bjork said. “As of today, we have time on our side and we will not make decisions based on incomplete information.”
Abbott’s teleconference with the ADs came during a week in which the state set highs for new cases of the virus.
State officials said there were 2,331 new cases Saturday, bringing the total to 86,011. That included a record-high 60 in Brazos County. The number of Texans hospitalized rose to 2,242 on Saturday, exceeding Friday’s record high of 2,166.
The upward trend follows the state’s reopening that started in May.