After expecting crowds of only 50 percent for its postseason baseball and softball tournaments, the NCAA announced on Wednesday that it had removed all crowd size restrictions for its spring championship events in accordance with its COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group.
Host sites are now free to fill all of their seats for the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals as long as they have clearance from local and state health authorities. Fans will also not be required to wear face masks.
“The effectiveness and prevalence of vaccinations in our country have allowed the Medical Advisory Group to provide this guidance that has tremendous impact on student-athletes, coaches and fans attending NCAA championships,” NCAA Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline said in a statement. “It’s still important for anyone attending championships to remember common sense measures like hand washing, hand sanitization and proper etiquette when coughing or sneezing.”
Vanderbilt is expected to host the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals at Hawkins Field. Nashville recently lifted all capacity restrictions for outdoor sporting events and Tuesday’s 20-4 win over Florida International was Vanderbilt’s first game at 100 percent capacity in more than a year.
No. 2 Vanderbilt, along with No. 1 Arkansas, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 8 Florida, No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 18 South Carolina are among expected to be among the initial NCAA Regional hosts.
"You hate to see situations going forward where you played all year and the stadiums that potentially could be packed are not," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said Wednesday. "It's great for the game, great for the kids. I do hope that that's the case for so many different reasons. It really will send a boost of energy to the next sport and the group of sporting events moving forward after this.”
Tennessee has been named a host site for the NCAA softball tournament for the 16th consecutive year. The Lady Vols are the No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament that begins this weekend.
Liberty, James Madison and Eastern Kentucky are the other three teams that will compete in the double-elimination Knoxville Regional at Sherry Parker Lee Stadium in front of a full-capacity crowd.
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