Police kicked out SMU’s entire student section during the first half of Saturday’s game against Memphis. The removal of the students from the end zone hill portion of Gerald J. Ford Stadium occurred because a “vast majority” of students were not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing requirements.
“Following last week’s home game, SMU consulted with local government and health officials on our continued commitment to social distancing and masking to provide a healthy game day experience,” SMU said in a statement. “Throughout the week, we sent several reminders of the critical importance of following safety measures while attending the game. We also increased staffing in the student section to provide direction, monitor policy compliance and provide support.
“During the game, some students began to gather and disregard these safety measures. They were asked to spread out and mask when in close contact. After numerous attempts by staff and security to get the students to comply with these safety requirements, it became necessary to clear the area.”
Sam Blum of the Dallas Morning News reports that while most of the students left right away, some lingered, but were gone by the second half. Mask-wearing and social distancing were issues on the hill during SMU’s home opener against Stephen F. Austin.
“The majority of fans in the stadium behaved responsibly and were socially-distanced and masked,” athletic director Rick Hart wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “That said, we will be working to adjust the behavior of a small subsection of fans who did not follow our pledge to protect, which was sent to all ticketholders.”
SMU’s stadium policy states that up to 1,000 students are permitted in the student section. All fans are required to have masks and leave at least six feet of separation between themselves and others, per safety guidelines. The paper reports that it appeared more than 1,000 people were tightly packed into the hill area.
SMU beat No. 25 Memphis 30-27 on a last-second field goal on Saturday.