What does Gov. Abbott’s mandate mean for Texas Longhorns sports?

Local Sports

The Texas baseball team played their home opener on a cold windy night.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott’s Tuesday announcement that “it’s time to reopen Texas 100%” may have implications for sporting events around the state.

In a new executive order, set to begin March 10, Abbott said Texas businesses are allowed to reopen to 100% capacity and the state mandate on masks is over. But what does the order mean for sporting events — specifically at the University of Texas?

A UT Athletics spokesperson told KXAN that the Longhorns athletic department “will continue to follow the advice” of its health officials when it comes to COVID-19 protocols and capacity at Longhorns games.

Texas won’t host another basketball game this season, so the spring sports, like baseball, softball and tennis, would be the focus of any potential changes. Currently, there are COVID-19 protocols in place for those sports.

Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte was asked on Twitter about protocols for upcoming baseball and softball games soon after Abbott’s announcement.

Del Conte responded to one user with this — “We’ll keep you posted as we continue to gather information from our game management team…until then all is status quo.”

Before the 2020 Texas Longhorns football season started, the athletic department was required to provide a plan to the state on how it would host games safely during the pandemic. Texas limited football attendance to 25% or 25,000 people and added other safety protocols at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium.

In January, with higher COVID-19 numbers in Travis County, Texas Athletics opted to play men’s and women’s basketball games behind closed doors with guidance from health officials. UT reopened basketball games at the Frank Erwin Center for a small percentage of fans in February.

For the 2021 football season, Texas put season ticket deposits on sale four weeks ago and posted its plans for 100% capacity in the FAQs section of its website.

“Texas Athletics is currently planning for attendance at 2021 home games to be at 100% seating capacity. We will continue to monitor local COVID-19 health and safety conditions in coordination with NCAA, Big 12, University, state, and local medical partners,” the website reads. 

Statewide, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday that his franchise’s protocols and mask requirements at home games will remain intact. On Monday, the San Antonio Spurs announced it would bring a limited amount of fans back for home games, starting on March 12. The Spurs’ decision was announced prior to Gov. Abbott’s press conference.

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