UTEP Football to play without fans against North Texas

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

Today UTEP Athletics Director Jim Senter and UTEP President Heather Wilson announced that UTEP’s game versus the University of North Texas scheduled for noon Saturday, Oct.31,  will not have fans in attendance.

The University announced no documented incidence of community spread derived from attendance of its football games. This step was taken as a precaution due to the current spike in COVID-19 cases in the region that has resulted in the community encouraging residents to stay home unless their duties were essential.

According to the city of El Paso, there has been a 160% increase in positive tests for COVID and a 300% increase in hospitalizations during the past three weeks. El Paso school districts have suspended high school sports for the next two weeks but UTEP  will still play football sans fans.

For its first two home games of the season, UTEP has had a capacity of 8,500 fans socially distanced throughout the Sun Bowl. The Southern Mississipi home game was canceled due to the opposing team having too many COVID-19 positive tests with its players.

“Miner fans have been terrific in following best health practices at our football games,” Wilson said.  “They have been doing the right things – wearing masks, social distancing, staying in assigned seats combined with a reduced seating capacity has kept everyone safe.   At the same time, the disease levels around us are high and, in support of El Paso’s efforts to keep people home, we have decided not to allow fans at Saturday’s game.”

“Student-athlete infections have been nearly non-existent due to their diligence in following the recommended safety protocols and the frequency of testing,” Senter added.  “While we believe that our department and our fans have followed all of the best practices to ensure a safe experience, the disease is at very high levels around us.  We understand El Paso’s desire to encourage people to stay home this weekend.”

Only coaches, student-athletes, support staff, officials, medical personnel and media with a working function at Saturday’s game will be permitted into the Sun Bowl. Future fan attendance at upcoming games will be evaluated on a week to week basis.

“We encourage Miner fans to stay home, stay safe, and watch Saturday’s game on CBS Sports Network,” Senter said.

The UTEP game against the University of North Texas will be televised at noon, Saturday, Oct.31 on CBS Sports Network.

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]