In conjunction with orders issued by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy due to the coronavirus pandemic, attendance at Rutgers athletic events will be extremely limited this fall.
“All Rutgers Athletics venues will operate in accordance with the executive orders issued by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy limiting outdoor gatherings to 500 people or fewer,” Rutgers said in a news release. “All safety precautions will be in place for those individuals who will be in attendance.”
Rutgers is the first Power Five program to have a definitive number on the amount of fans it can have in its home stadium for football games in the fall — if the season is not delayed. According to NJ.com, the limit of 500 “does not include players, officials and other employees of the teams.” It is unclear how long the governor’s order will remain in effect.
“We understand and support the Governor’s decision based on health and safety guidelines. Athletic department officials will continue to monitor any changes to public health guidelines and adjust accordingly,” the school said.
Murphy’s order also affects the New York Giants and New York Jets, who will play their respective home games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in front of no fans.
The Big Ten announced July 9 that it will play a conference-only football schedule this fall, a decision that canceled Rutgers’ non-conference games against Monmouth, Temple and Syracuse. The games against Monmouth and Syracuse were scheduled for SHI Stadium on the school’s campus in Piscataway, New Jersey.
“This was done to create consistent safety protocols to protect the well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and all those involved in game day activities, as well as to provide maximum flexibility and control over our schedule,” Rutgers athletic director Patrick Hobbs said.
Rutgers said details on its updated Big Ten-only football schedule “shall be forthcoming.” As it currently stands, the Scarlet Knights would open up the year on Sept. 26 at Ohio State.
The program is entering the first season of Greg Schiano’s second tenure as head coach. Schiano, who first was RU’s head coach from 2001 to 2011, had a two-year run as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later served as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator.
The years that followed Schiano’s departure from Rutgers have not gone well. Kyle Flood, a longtime Schiano assistant, had two winning seasons but was fired after a controversy-filled 2015 campaign. From there, Chris Ash was a combined 8-32 (3-26 Big Ten) over parts of four seasons. He was fired after the team started 1-4 in 2019. The Scarlet Knights eventually finished the year 2-10.
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