BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana's baseball team is fun to watch this season. The Hoosiers are in first place in the Big Ten, and a likely NCAA Tournament participant. They have a loyal fan following, too, one that would love to be packing the seats at Bart Kaufman Field these days.
COVID-19 restrictions have kept fans away from fields and arenas at Indiana and throughout the Big Ten all season, but last week league officials announced that it was lifting league-wide restrictions on fans attending games for spring sports events. The decision was effective immediately.
Several schools acted swiftly. Purdue, for instance, allowed a smart percentage of fans for last week's home baseball games with Rutgers. Other school have scheduled spring football games with several thousand fans.
But Indiana has decided to keep all restrictions in place, after consultations with university officials and Monroe County health officials. That means no fans are allowed other than family members.
The decision disappointed many fans. Indiana coach Jeff Mercer is disappointed too, but he understands it's the world we live in right now.
"I would love to (have fans at home games,'' Mercer said Wednesday during his weekly news conference.. "I've talked to my administrator and will continue to talk to him about it. As far as I've been told, we're in status quo. I wish that would change, but it's a university policy and it has to go through Monroe County.
"I think the athletic department wants to allow fans. I don't think that they don't want that. I think with the NCAA (basketball) tournament being at Indiana, that was probably at the top of the list, As we clear through the NCAA tournament now, we're able to revisit the subject.''
Indiana is on the road this weekend at Ohio State, but they return home for a series with Illinois next weekend. It will still be family only, but Mercer does hope it changes before the season ends in late May.
"You've seen a lot of restrictions lifted and mandates being lifted lately, and things are opening up a little bit. Hopefully we'll follow suit,'' he said.
"I do know that it's not my call, that it's way above my head, and I respect that. It's a partnership between the university and Monroe County to be able to allow the athletic department to do those things.
"Between the university and Monroe County, they'll give us the marching orders and we'll follow it from there.''
The edict affects all spring sports, including football. Indiana football coach Tom Allen announced Wednesday that there would be no spring football game, and that they would just practice instead. For the full story, CLICK HERE
Related stories on Indiana baseball
- HOOSIERS TUMBLE (Sunday(: Michigan State finally shuts down Indiana's bats, wins 5-1 in series finale at East Lansing. CLICK HERE
- BATS STAY HOT IN INDIANA ROUT (Saturday): The top of the Indiana batting order went wild on Saturday, leading the Hoosiers to a 10-4 rout of Michigan State. CLICK HERE
- HOOSIERS OPEN SERIES WITH WIN (Friday): Tommy Sommer is sharp on the mound and the bats were hot in Indiana's 8-2 win over Michigan State on Friday. Grant Richardson was 3-for-4 for the Hoosiers. CLICK HERE
- FRESHMEN ADD POP TO LINEUP: Freshmen Paul Toetz and Kip Fougerousse are coming through at the plate, adding a lot of depth to the Hoosiers' powerful lineup. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA SCHEDULE: Here is Indiana's complete 44-game regular season schedule, with links to all the game stories thus far. CLICK HERE