OU issues new seating policies in an effort to 'do better' complying with health guidelines

John. E. Hoover

OU fans - Missouri State
OU fans during the Sooners' game against Missouri StatePool photo / Ian Maule

Citing “disappointing behaviors by some,” the University of Oklahoma has announced changes to student seating at future home games.

When the Sooners take the field on Sept. 26 for their Big 12 Conference opener against Kansas State, OU will issue “explicit designation of seating sections on student tickets to eliminate any previous confusion about the proper location for student attendees,” according to an athletic department press release on Friday.

OU also will have “clearer concourse signage at the entry ramps for the student sections; establishment of student seating clusters in groups of 2 to 10; and clearly delineated prohibited seating sections marked by flagging tape.”

According to the press release, “the changes are the result of meetings amongst university officials and student leaders following the disappointing behaviors by some at the season's first game” against Missouri State on Sept. 12 and are being made “to achieve greater compliance with” OU’s COVID-19 policies.

“Security personnel will also be significantly increased throughout the student section to provide direction, monitor locations and provide support,” the release states. “Staff will work with game attendees in an effort to achieve compliance with seating and masking requirements. Attendees who do not cooperate are subject to removal from the stadium and may have future game attendance privileges revoked.”

OU also is considering the “possibility of a reduction or elimination of student tickets and seating,” per the release. “Those steps have been tabled pending an evaluation of the new measures that will be implemented for the upcoming game.”

OU athletic director Joe Castiglione had said earlier this summer that fans who can’t adhere to mask and other health policies at OU games should consider staying home instead. On Saturday, he seemed displeased and issued a statement to the OU Daily.

“We applaud and are very thankful to the majority of fans who complied with the mask-wearing policy and distancing guidelines at the game Saturday night,” Castiglione said. “You all did your part to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

“Unfortunately, we had too many fans fall short of expectations, and our message to those individuals is simple: we need you to do better. We recognize wearing a mask for an extended period of time may not be easy or comfortable. It’s not fun for us to enforce, either. However, right now it’s a necessity. For the health and well-being of everyone involved, we’re trying to set that standard.”

“If we can do a great job of following masking and distancing protocol, it also increases our chances of continuing to have fans or even adding more fans at our home games. We won’t get there with the effort extended on Saturday night. I know Sooner fans. We can and need to do better.”

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Hope there is more people watching for fans who totally disregarded the masks and distancing rules. We were not in student section but had so many people who did not sit in their assigned seats and did not wear their masks properly.