Governor Changes his Mind, Will Allow Parents to Attend Games

Brett Friedlander

The parents of NC State's football players have spoken. And Gov. Roy Cooper has listened.

One day after a group of Wolfpack parents delivered a petition with nearly 100 signatures on it requesting Cooper to relax a state restriction on crowds at public gatherings, the governor has issued an exemption that will allow them to watch their sons play in person.

Assistant athletic director for communications Annabelle Myers confirmed the news on Friday, adding that State's athletic department will issue an official statement once all the details are worked out.

The waiver that will allow the Wolfpack's parents to attend Saturday's game against Wake Forest, along with all others played while coronavirus restrictions are in place, also applies to home games at North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and other state schools.

A group of players' parents, led by the father of senior tight end Thomas Ruocchio, gathered at Cooper's office on Thursday to plead their case and deliver a petition stating that there's enough room in the 57,583-seat Carter-Finley Stadium for fewer than 500 family members to attend while remaining socially distanced.

Under Phase 2.5 of the governor's plan to reopen the state amid the coronavirus pandemic, public gatherings in North Carolina are limited to 50 attendees or fewer.

Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said during a Zoom conference on Thurday that the football team had planned to issue 50 tickets to parents based on player seniority. But now, 250 tickets will be made available to Wolfpack family members -- enough for everyone in the program -- with 100 going to the parents of Wake Forest players.

"I understand there’s rules and regulations and you don’t want to open up Pandora’s box for everybody," Doeren said. "It just seems like there should be a little flexibility when you see a lot of people hanging out on a patio at a bar, but you can’t have 500 parents in a 60,000-seat stadium. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

"These kids have been through a lot. Their parents, like all of us that have kids, have been watching them go through a lot. For most of their lives they’ve been able to watch them play in person. I think it would be a great thing for that to happen."

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