At one point earlier this year, Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said the Southeastern Conference was looking at 12 different scheduling scenarios for the upcoming fall football season.
After the chancellors and presidents talked Thursday, the plan of a 10-game conference-only schedule beginning Sept. 26 was the one approved and put into place for the 2020 season.
“We were listening to advice from a number of medical professionals, our medical task force in the SEC and others and felt like delaying the season’s start, kicking back the championship game a couple weeks, gives us flexibility to deal with things that may happen during the season,” Sterk said.
“Campuses will start to fill up in the middle of August, and if there are outbreaks, it gets an opportunity to settle those down and get under better control. ... That’s the advice we received, is to give that an opportunity to play itself out and then start the season fresh Sept. 26.”
While Missouri’s schedule is not yet finalized, Sterk said the Tigers will play all six of their Eastern Division foes and that the Nov. 28 game scheduled against Arkansas will most likely be moved from Kansas City to Columbia, on Dec 5.
“We’ve been in discussions with the Chiefs and had mentioned to Arkansas that it might happen, and the Chiefs are dealing with their own issues of trying to put on their season and having their players,” Sterk said. “They understand, and at some point bring a game back there. We haven’t determined that, but it’s most likely we’ll play that Arkansas game here.”
The rest of the schedule, Sterk anticipates, will be determined “shortly,” as the athletic directors have three calls scheduled for next week.
When Missouri does play its home games, Sterk says, it is looking at models with 50% and 25% capacity for fans in Memorial Stadium, but it is targeting 20%.
Memorial Stadium holds a little more than 61,000 fans at full capacity. Sterk said that the tickets would most likely go to students and season ticket holders.
As far as whether fans will be required to wear masks while in the stadium, Sterk said that MU will follow county guidelines and that it would be “highly recommended.”
The university is planning to have both in-person and online classes when the fall semester begins in August, but Sterk said that “as long as the campus is operational, I feel like we can have football.”
Sterk still anticipates that fall camp will begin as scheduled next Friday, a plan that may allow MU to make up for lost practices in the spring. He reiterated that most of MU’s COVID-19 cases have been asymptomatic and was confident in the school’s program in place.