No Crowds For September Home Games, Crowd Noise a Possibility

NC State has announced that it will play its September home sports events, including football, without fans. It might not sound that way, though, since the ACC has approved the use of artifical crowd noise
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Following the lead of in-state ACC rivals North Carolina and Duke, NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan announced Monday that the Wolfpack will begin its fall sports seasons with no fans in attendance at least through the month of September because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The policy, which is in line with current state guidelines, covers football, men's soccer, volleyball and cross-country events. Not only will fans be unable to attend the games, but tailgating will not be permitted outside Carter-Finley Stadium at least for State's opening game against Wake Forest on Sept. 19.

Earlier Monday, State announced that its women's soccer team will not participate in a fall season because of a lack of available players.

“We understand this may be difficult news for Wolfpack Nation," Corrigan said in a statement, "But given the information available to us at the current time, we are making the responsible decision to begin our season without spectators.”

Corrigan said that the athletic department continue to evaluate its ability to lessen restrictions for events that take place in the month of October.

While there might not be any fans in the stands when the Wolfpack plays at Carter-Finley, at least to start the season, there's still a chance that it will at least sound as though the stands are full.

That's because the ACC has formally approved the use of artificial crowd noise will be permitted at its stadiums this season to help "replicate the normal gameday in-venue experience.”

There are some restrictions, of course. According to the league's 2020 football operations manual, the use of artificial crowd, background noise or music must not create sounds "that prohibits a team from hearing its signals once the offensive team breaks its huddle or, if no huddle, when the center addresses the ball, until the official whistles the play dead." 

Violation of those standards could result in either a delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the home team at the game referee's discretion.

State has yet to announce what it will do when it comes to piped-in crowd noise for its home games. That's a decision for the marketing department, an athletic department spokesperson said, and "they're still working on what the plan will be."

At least one of the Wolfpack's rivals is already preparing to deal with the issue.

“It has been approved that we can have crowd noise, so we actually pumped in crowd noise during (our) scrimmage,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said in a Zoom call with the media on Monday. "It's very disappointing to me and our players that we will not be able to have fans at our games in September."

UNC and Duke have both announced that they will play their home games without fans. Other ACC schools will allow in-stadium attendance on a limited basis. 

Clemson has announced it will allow 19,000 fans at its games, Miami will cap attendance at 13,000 while Louisville's number is 18,000. Notre Dame, which is competing as a championshi-eligible ACC member this season, will limit capacity to 20,000 while ensuring students would be among those allowed in.

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