After extensive discussions and careful deliberation among the Sun Belt Conference Presidents and Chancellors, Athletics Directors, SBC COVID-19 Advisory Panel, medical advisors, and other governance groups, the Sun Belt Conference announced today that its football season will begin over Labor Day weekend.

Sun Belt member institutions have focused since June on a safe return to athletic activities. We believe this timetable will allow for the healthy integration of the entire campus community for each Sun Belt member.

The 2020 Sun Belt Conference football season will be comprised of an 8-conference game schedule with an option for each member to add as many as four non-conference opponents, beginning with Week Zero. The Sun Belt will host a football championship game on December 5 between the East Division and West Division champions. If necessary, the date of the championship game may be adjusted.

The Sun Belt Conference will continue to monitor health trends across our communities. Sun Belt Presidents and Chancellors, Athletics Directors, the COVID-19 Advisory Panel, and medical advisors will continue to review data to ensure a safe return to activities and competition. Our data review will cross seven states and 12 counties and include, among other things, infection rates, hospitalization rates, local health directives, advancements in COVID-19 testing and campus, department and team health trends.

We will continue to provide updates on the league’s activities as the impact of the pandemic continues to evolve.

Georgia Southern Athletics Response:

The Sun Belt Conference announced plans on Aug. 4 for a full 12-game schedule for its members. This FAQ is applicable to the current decision made by the Sun Belt on a 12-game schedule and may be subject to change. If any information guides us in a different path than the information below, we will communicate it out to Eagle Nation in a timely manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What safety precautions are being taken to make sure I’m safe in the stadium this fall?
A: Georgia Southern Athletics will follow recommendations outlined by the University, local, state and federal government officials. We will provide updates as more information becomes available. As always, the safety of everyone is our foremost priority. Our staff has spent months coming up with a plan that includes social distancing, sanitation and other new safety measures and we look forward to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone at games this fall!

Q: Based on the percentage of fans allowed into stadiums, how will you determine which ticket holders are permitted to attend?
A: We are currently determining a formula that factors in priority points and annual contributions to help guide our process. Our goal will be to accommodate as many people as possible within the health and safety guidelines outlined by local, state and federal health and government officials. Currently there have been no final decisions made affecting the seating map for a reduced capacity scenario, and we will be in communication in the near future to discuss your seating options for the 2020 season.

Q: Based on social distancing guidelines, how will seat allocation be handled?
A: We will be following the mandates set forth by the state and local government in terms of seating capacity and social distancing. The ticket office will be in touch with you in the near future to discuss your seating options for the 2020 season. We are making efforts to accommodate all season ticket accounts in some fashion.

Q: Will season ticket holders have access to all 2020 home games?
A: In determining our capacity for all home games, the availability of inventory will depend upon institutional decision making in conjunction with public health regulations.

Q: Will tailgating be allowed this season?
A: Policies regarding tailgating will be shared as information becomes available.

Q: Based on the percent of capacity, how will you determine how many and which students can attend football games?
A: Georgia Southern students make up one of the most passionate groups in the country and turn Paulson Stadium into an intimidating place for visiting teams. The students are a valuable part of the game day experience and will be treated equitably when it comes to the number of tickets allotted. The Athletics Department continues to work with the Division of Student Affairs to come up with a plan to safely accommodate as many athletic fees-paying students as possible.

Q: So can we plan on definitely having sports this fall?
A: Georgia Southern will be guided by decisions made by the NCAA and the Sun Belt Conference.

Q: Will I have to wear a mask at sporting events this year?
A: We will follow up with more detailed information about COVID-19 related safety measures as that information becomes available but we will follow all applicable state, local and university protocols.

Q: How will in-venue concessions change due to social distancing measures?
A: Concessions will be implementing many additional safety measures for the upcoming season. These include, but are not limited to, social distancing in the concession lines, cashless transactions and a new flow of patrons. Additional information, as well as a full game day fan guide, will be released closer to game week.

Q: What if, as a season ticket holder, I am uncomfortable with attending events in the 2020-21 athletics season but want to return in 2021-22?
A: Options for season ticket holders include donating the prorated amount back to the Athletic Foundation, rolling over your account credit toward 2021-22 football season tickets or a prorated refund of tickets. The deadline for a decision on your tickets needs to be communicated to the Athletic Ticket Office by Tuesday, Sept. 1 by contacting 1-800-GSU-WINS.

Q: Why is my donation important?
A: The generosity of Eagle Nation provides our 400 student-athletes with access to scholarships, facilities, sports medicine personnel, coaching, academic support and many other services. Your generosity affords our student-athletes the ability to compete at a high level and grow into great ambassadors who represent our university. Please contact The Georgia Southern Athletics Foundation if you have any specific questions in regards to your personal donation.

Football scheduling remains a fluid situation and the Athletics Department continues to work diligently on a final 2020 football schedule.

DeWayne Grice

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...