President Trombley and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Glenn Schwab announced today the University will continue to hold all university athletic events without spectators for the remainder of the spring semester. The “no spectators” policy will apply to all sports and all home games, regardless of the location of the competition.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our community has been determined to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy as we fulfill our core purpose of offering a liberal arts education and maintaining a healthy and empathic community,” Trombley said. “This was not a decision undertaken lightly. I know parents and Pirate fans will be disappointed; however, under the circumstances this is the responsible decision.” Trombley continued, “It was made after consulting with our faculty health and safety committee as well as taking into consideration Texas’ current rolling seven-day average infection rate of 16.6%, and Williamson County’s rate of 12.8%, which places the county in a COVID Red Phase, the most serious classification of Uncontrolled Community Spread. As good neighbors we do not want to be a contributor to the current concerning situation, therefore we made the difficult decision to continue the ‘no spectators’ policy.”

The World Health Organization recommends holding to a positivity rate of 5% or below.

Not allowing spectators at our athletic events will not only help safeguard student-athletes, coaches, and staff, but also ensure the University is doing its utmost to protect our entire campus. Southwestern has consistently maintained very low COVID-19 infection rates while continuing on-campus residency and in-person instruction.

“In the interest of equity and fairness across all our sports, we could not in good conscience allow spectators at outdoor sports but not indoor sports or at off-campus venues but not on-campus venues,” Schwab said. “Because our sports span two conferences, it was necessary for us to adopt one uniform policy on spectators. Our football conference, the American Southwest Conference, left the decision regarding spectators up to each university, while the institutions in our other conference, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, all agreed to not have spectators. We opted for consistency for all our programs by banning all spectators.”

Southwestern’s sports communications team will broadcast all athletic events on SHN Sports. Information about schedules and broadcasts can be found at southwesternpirates.com.


FAQs for No Spectators at Athletic Events Policy

Q: Will the University reconsider the “no spectator” decision if COVID infection rates improve or vaccinations increase?

A: At the current time Georgetown is under a Red Phase warning, meaning there is an uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus in the surrounding community. Vaccinations are limited and restricted for just two select groups. Educators, and the majority of our staff and students, are not included in those groups at this time. The “no spectator” policy will stay in effect through the spring semester.

Q: Will SU change the “no spectators” policy if other universities in our athletic conferences begin allowing spectators?

A: We believe this policy is in the best interest of the SU community and affords the most equitable and comprehensive protection of our students, faculty and staff. The “no spectator” policy will stay in effect through the spring semester. At this time, two scheduled competitions have been cancelled due to positive test results by our competitors. This is an extremely difficult situation to manage that can change immediately depending upon test results.

Q: How will SU enforce the “no spectators” policy?

A: Our coaches and athletic conferences have worked extremely hard to create the opportunity for our student athletes to compete this spring. To that end, our athletic staff’s attention, time, energy and focus will be on game day and/or practice logistics associated with running a Division III athletic program.  It is our hope that the entire SU community will support this goal. Should distracting or unsafe behavior require attention of the staff, SUPD will be engaged to respond to correct the behavior.  

Q: Isn’t creating a blanket “no spectators” policy for all sports – indoor and outdoor – just an easy solution versus a well-thought out policy based upon the situational assessments for each sport?

A: Nothing has been easy this year in regards to trying to create safe circumstances for our student-athletes to engage in competition. Southwestern’s student-athletes share training facilities and often workout in close proximity to one another. If one group of athletes are subjected to greater exposure due to spectators, travel, and other circumstances then they are putting other student-athletes and the greater SU community at risk for contracting COVID-19.

Q: Does SU support or promote unofficial gatherings of students, parents and sports fans at off-campus events?

A: We want to remind our students of the Pirate Pledge and the commitment of the entire SU community to protect themselves and one another in every possible way. We ask parents and Pirate fans to respect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff and their community by not involving them in large gatherings.

Q: Is the intent of the “no spectators” policy to emphasize academics over athletics?

A: The intent of the policy is to protect the entire SU community and the Georgetown community at-large.

Q: Why is Southwestern insisting that all sports be treated in the same manner and that the “no spectators” policy apply to all athletics programs?

A: One of the hallmarks of Southwestern University is our dedication and commitment to our entire community. We do not place one department, field of study, student organization, or athletics team over another. This also concerns the shared training facilities and not placing other students, staff, and coaches at risk for infection. This mutual support extends across the entire University.

Q: What scientific evidence did Southwestern use to make the “no spectators” policy?

A: We have taken our guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, epidemiologists, faculty experts, and community health experts. Southwestern has worked for almost a year now to create a bubble for our students, faculty and staff. We are among a very small number of institutions where the majority of classes are in person and not online, thanks to the planning that we have done and policies that we have created. If we have parents and Pirate fans traveling from places outside of our community and coming to Georgetown to be in close proximity to our community then we simply increase the risk of transmission to our entire campus - particularly if these spectators are coming from a COVID-19 hotspot. This risk increases significantly when the opposing teams’ fans attend athletic competitions.

Q: Will all athletics events be streamed?

A: Football and Basketball are outsourced through SHN and the wired internet is excellent for those events. We’ve never had any issues for any event SHN has broadcasted. For soccer/lacrosse and softball we are working with SHN to have their hot spot on standby in the event of any issues. The University is setting up a two-camera system for baseball to increase game coverage.