Tulane University became the first FBS college football program to require vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours to attend a home game this season. All attendees will also be required to wear a mask.
Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen told Yahoo Sports about the policy change in a phone interview on Thursday. Dannen said that Tulane’s policy change fell in line with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s announcement regarding major indoor and outdoor events. This includes eating at restaurants, going to bars and attending New Orleans Saints games.
Tulane opens the season Sept. 4 against Oklahoma, the highest profile Green Wave home game in years. Dannen said he has been communicating with the teams on Tulane’s home schedule about the expectations of the mayoral announcement for team officials, players and their fan bases.
“It is our hope that the mayor’s directive will encourage the unvaccinated to receive a vaccination for their own benefit and for the benefit of all of us,” Dannen said in a release. “It also serves as a strong reminder that in a pandemic there are expectations for all who want to participate in activities in which they share an environment with others.”
The question looms if other major college football programs will follow, especially in states struggling with the virus. Yahoo Sports reported earlier on Thursday that four of the five least vaccinated states in the country – Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas – are in the SEC footprint. Programs like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have much more vast alumni and fan bases than Tulane.
Both New Orleans and the state of Louisiana have been grappling with the Delta variant of COVID-19. New Orleans has a positivity rate of 15% and the state of Louisiana has the fourth-lowest rate of fully vaccinated people in the country at less than 38%.
Tulane has 95% of its student body vaccinated and 92% of the faculty and staff. “To further ensure a smooth gameday experience and to protect our collective health, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Dannen said in his statement.
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