Iowa State announced Tuesday its plan to limit Jack Trice Stadium to 50% capacity this fall. Those looking for a similar declaration from Kansas State will have to wait for now.
K-State athletics director Gene Taylor pointed out it’s not entirely in his hands. He noted Iowa State didn’t unveil its football attendance strategy until Iowa governor Kim Reynolds said certain aspects of the state’s economy could reopen at 50% capacity.
“We don’t have that directive yet,” Taylor told The Mercury in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re planning for all scenarios. We’d love to be able to put as many fans in there as we can.”
“There” being Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the 50,000-seat home of K-State’s football team. How many spectators will be permitted to watch the Wildcats in person next season remains to be seen.
Taylor said the athletics department will continue to wait for guidance from government officials at both the state and local levels.
“Whether it’s the governor or locally or whoever, we need to start to have those conversations,” he said. “But we haven’t had that yet.”
As it is, Taylor is busy with discussions elsewhere.
In addition to his day-to-day duties running K-State’s athletics department, he is part of a five-member group of Big 12 ADs — along with Baylor’s Mack Rhoades, Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione, TCU’s Jeremiah Donati and West Virginia’s Shane Lyons — sorting through the issues the ongoing coronavirus pandemic might present during the upcoming football season. Taylor said the quintet volunteered for the job.
“There are just so many pieces we’re trying to figure out,” he said. “(The conference) said, ‘Hey look, we’d like to try to narrow down some of the football pieces and return-to-play pieces. Does anybody want to help out?’ So the five of us said, ‘Yeah, we can help out.’”
The group’s first order of business: determining when to allow student-athletes to return to campus. (They decided on June 15, which the conference announced last week.)
Taylor said the group now has turned its attention toward gamedays, looking at schedules and hypothetical models for how a team’s slate may change pending developments with the COVID-19 outbreak.
That coincides with what Taylor said arguably will be the toughest challenge the group will face: agreeing on standard testing procedures.
“I’m on the operational side of things,” Taylor said. “Like, ‘What are we going to do if a student-athlete tests positive? When are we going to test them? Are we going to test them the Thursday before a game? Friday? What’s the protocol?’ Those things are the next critical pieces, and I would tell you they’re going to probably be the most difficult to come up with real solid answers on — we’ll have to eventually, but it’s not going to be easy. There’s a lot of moving parts.”