|Dear Miami Hurricanes Fans:|
In less than two weeks, our beloved ’Canes will take the field at Hard Rock Stadium for our season opener against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. If there is one thing I have learned in the five years I have been at the U, it is that football is not just part of what we do here; it is an embodiment of the values that define us as a community: team spirit, discipline and hard work, fair and respectful competition, adherence to shared rules, integrity.
Recent announcements that the Atlantic Coast Conference would move forward with competition this fall and that fans would be allowed at Hard Rock Stadium were met with enormous excitement. But they have also raised important questions and concerns given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just as I was confident that we could bring students back safely to campus if we were adaptive, data-driven, and careful, I am confident that we can play football with fans in our stadium if we take the appropriate safety precautions to protect ourselves and one another.
Since June, our players, coaches, and staff have been preparing for the season, while adhering to the pandemic safety protocols we require of all UM community members. Repeated rounds of testing carried out since the start of fall camp in early August have yielded zero positive cases among our football student-athletes. This encouraging result provides proof of concept that, if we all abide by those protocols, we can engage safely in our core educational activities, including athletics. The ’Canes have set an example for us all, modeling the teamwork, adaptability, and other behaviors necessary to enjoy a safe semester.
We must follow their lead.
With that in mind, today we announce two important decisions, ahead of ticket sales beginning on Monday. The first decision is that there will be no alcohol at Hard Rock Stadium during Miami Hurricanes games.
As organizations across South Florida and around the world fight COVID-19, the importance of relying on the experts has become clear. Our community has come too far to ignore the evidence. Alcohol impairs the ability to make rational decisions and has been shown to dampen immunity. We all look forward to the day when we can engage socially at games as we always have, but that day has not yet arrived.
The second decision is one we will continue to evaluate as the season progresses. However, given that we are barely two weeks into the semester and the number of COVID-19 cases among students has registered recent increases, students will not be permitted to attend the first two home games at Hard Rock Stadium. As disappointing as this is to all of us, especially the students, this is the prudent course of action at this time, as we continue to prioritize health and safety on campus above all else. Stay tuned for announcements regarding gameday activities for students this September.
When it comes to COVID-19, it is not enough to expect the worst and hope for the best. We must work together to bring about the best possible scenario. The decisions we make will be based on this premise—whether it is administrators reevaluating student attendance at live games, coaches calling plays, or student-athletes making smart decisions on and off the field.
Football games are about unity, which—as we’ve learned during this pandemic—is not about being in the same physical location. This season, perhaps more than any other, is about showing what we are made of. Thank you for doing your part to safeguard the proud tradition of Hurricanes football.