Iowa among schools planning to play in front of all fans this season

Iowa and other universities are still hoping to play football at full stadiums this fall.

Athletic director Gary Barta said Thursday that Iowa is planning to have unrestricted crowds at Kinnick Stadium, where last fall it averaged 65,557 for games, 20th in the FBS. Iowa also is modeling for reduced-capacity crowds, depending on guidelines from the state, the CDC and other agencies relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

If Iowa has reduced-capacity crowds for football, Barta said season-ticket holders, priority points holders and students will be admitted first. Iowa had about 48,000 season-ticket holders in 2019, and renewal rates for 2020 are around 75%.

Barta said he speaks daily with other Big Ten athletic directors and said all of the league's members are preparing for full football seasons with crowds, while also recognizing that no decisions about the season have been finalized.

Iowa is set to bring back athletes to campus in phases next month, beginning with football players on June 8, men's and women's basketball players on June 15, and athletes in other sports later in the month. Athletes can take part in voluntary activities in June, and required activities won't begin until at least July 1.

Barta said any Iowa athletes who don't want to train or compete because of COVID-19 concerns will not face any repercussions with their status or scholarships. Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman last week confirmed the same protections for Fighting Illini athletes.

Barta said Iowa will be prepared for positive COVID-19 tests and has protocols in place to prevent outbreaks.