Texas to proceed with 100% crowd capacity for remainder of baseball and softball seasons
Texas will fully open the stands at UFCU Disch-Falk Field and McCombs Field for the rest of the baseball and softball seasons, the university announced Thursday.
Due to the pandemic, Texas has had limited attendance at its athletic events throughout the 2020-21 school year. The Longhorns even moved their volleyball matches into the more spacious Erwin Center.
The NCAA had previously announced that for baseball and softball, capacity would be capped at 50% during the postseason. Earlier this week, however, the NCAA relaxed those rules and said decisions could be based on local guidelines.
"After consultation with President (Jay) Hartzell and our campus leadership and the recent news from the NCAA, we're thrilled to be in a position to return to full capacity at our events," Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. "We'll continue to have our health and safety measures in place to ensure our venues are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and that all of the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans are in the best possible situation at our competitions."
Texas also announced that fans will not be required to wear masks. For those who are not vaccinated or have a weakened immune system, social distancing is considered "optional but recommended."
Disch-Falk has a capacity of 7,373. McCombs seats 1,254.
Starting Friday, the softball team will host a regional that also features Oregon, Texas State and Saint Francis. Expecting to fill half its stadium, Texas quickly sold out of available tickets Monday morning.
During a press availability Wednesday, UT's Lauren Burke was asked about the possibility of squeezing more fans into McCombs. Burke approved of the idea.
"I'm not the CDC. I can't make those decisions. But boy, if I could, I would want it sold out in a heartbeat," Burke said. "I'm thrilled that we even get to have a few fans that we do, but I would definitely pull the trigger" on full capacity.
Texas softball coach Mike White added that he would be comfortable with playing in a full stadium. He also said every member of the softball program has been fully vaccinated.
"Hopefully we have our mind toward safety," White said. "If it is something about everyone has to wear masks if they're not vaccinated, I don't see a problem with having a full house."
The baseball team will find out this weekend if it will host a regional. Disch-Falk Field is one of 20 sites being considered by the NCAA.
Texas still has three home games left on the baseball schedule. The Longhorns opened a three-game series against West Virginia on Thursday.