TAMPA, Fla. — Fans looking forward to the start of a new USF Bulls basketball season, you'll have to cheer on the team from a distance, at least for now.
USF Athletics says it plans for the 2020-2021 men's and women's basketball seasons to start without fans in the stands at the Yuengling Center. This plan will stay in place through at least Dec. 15, the school says.
"After consulting with university leadership and local health officials, we felt it was the right decision to begin the 2020-21 men's and women's basketball seasons without fans in attendance in the Yuengling Center," Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said.
"We understand this decision will not be happily received by the many fans excited to see our basketball teams, but we feel it is in the best interest of our fans and broader university and Bay area communities, as well as in line with our priority for the health and safety of our student-athletes and coaches as they begin to compete for conference championships with an eye toward postseason play.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and consult local, state and university health officials as we assess attendance policies throughout the season."
USF Athletics says leaders will continue to review fan attendance policies for the rest of the season to see if limited attendance at future home games is appropriate.
Currently, the university says a limited number of players' and coaches' family members will be allowed to attend home games in person.
But there is good news for fans. USF says the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and ESPN have a new agreement starting this season that will bring nearly all basketball games to your home, either on TV networks or digitally through ESPN+.
If you have tickets for the 2020-21 basketball season, you have a few options:
1. You can defer your payment for 2020-21 season tickets toward tickets for the 2021-22 season
2. Donate your 2020-21 ticket purchase to the Bulls Club
3. Or you can request a full refund of your 2020-21 season tickets.
You'll be contacted directly with details if you're a season ticket holder. Anyone with questions can contact the USF ticket officer at 1-800-GoBulls.
If fan attendance at home games resumes this season, current season ticket holders will have first priority. All future home games where fans might be allowed this season will be ticketed on a single-game basis.
Under NCAA guidelines, USF says the first games can begin on Nov. 25. USF basketball schedules will be announced soon.