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USF the latest to limit attendance at home sporting events

For now, spring football practice also is on hold, and the April 18 spring football game could be in jeopardy
For now, USF spring football practices under new coach Jeff Scott, are on hold due to concerns over the coronavirus. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
For now, USF spring football practices under new coach Jeff Scott, are on hold due to concerns over the coronavirus. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

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Following the lead of other universities around the nation, USF announced Thursday morning it will limit attendance at upcoming home sporting events to “teams, essential staff and limited family attendance” until further notice.

The restrictions, resulting from the global impact of the coronavirus, take effect starting with Thursday’s women’s tennis match vs. James Madison. Additionally, football coach Jeff Scott chose to reschedule Thursday morning’s spring practice to a later date to be determined.

The school indicated it still is assessing the impact of future spring practices and the April 18 spring game. The Bulls already were scheduled to take next week off for spring break.

Related: A look at the day coronavirus altered the sports landscape

“After consulting with university leadership, I have made the decision that it is in the best interest for the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, fans and the community at large to conduct our athletic competitions for a period of time in the absence of fans,” USF athletic director Michael Kelly said in a school news release.

“We will continue to monitor closely the impacts of COVID-19 and consult public health resources as we assess the need for further adjustments moving forward.”

The measures, including those for football, mostly follow suit with other schools nationwide. They come less than 24 hours after the NCAA announced its upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, will be accessible only to “essential staff and limited family attendance.”

Late Thursday morning, Miami announced its home athletics competitions also will be staged without fans, at least through the end of the month. However, the school hasn’t yet clarified how spring football practice, for now set to resume Tuesday following a week off for spring break, will be affected.

Baylor announced Wednesday night it is suspending spring football practice until at least March 23. Ohio State hasn’t yet suspended its spring practices, but canceled its April 11 spring game. Michigan also canceled its spring scrimmage (set for April 18).

By contrast, FSU held a spring practice, with players in full pads, Thursday morning.

Bulls home sporting events will continue to have broadcast and internal media coverage, with credentialed external media permitted for now.

USF will live-stream as many contests as possible, and provide audio coverage on its Bulls Unlimited channels on iHeartRadio.

Following a directive from the Florida Board of Governors, the university is transitioning all classes to remote instruction as soon as possible, and will continue that practice through at least April 5.

Bulls fans who have purchased individual game tickets or season passes are being automatically reimbursed by USF’s ticket office for the games missed due to the new measure.

Refunds will be processed back to the form of payment used for the original purchase. All purchasers will be contacted once the refund is processed. Fans with questions may contact the USF ticket office at 1-800-GoBulls.

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