RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State University said Friday it has received permission from the state to allow up to 350 fans to attend its Saturday home football game against Wake Forest University.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the gathering limit to The Associated Press on Friday morning.
“We received word that we can have 350 in attendance tomorrow rather than 50,” said Fred Demarest, spokesman for N.C. State's athletics department. “We will be giving 250 to our player parents and providing 100 for Wake Forest.”
An executive order from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper presently limits outdoor gatherings to 50 people. The public health department said it would allow two family members per player to attend live football games up to 350 people as long as the college follows certain health protocols.
“We understand that parents and close family members are accustomed to, and look forward to seeing their athletes play games and that not being there is incredibly difficult,” the health department told the AP.
Wake Forest's football coach, Dave Clawson, thanked the health department and N.C. State for allowing his team's parents to attend.
“Our program is grateful for the decision from the department of North Carolina Health and Human Services to allow 350 fans at the game tomorrow night and next week," Clawson said in a statement. "We are appreciative of NC State sharing that allotment with us so that we can allocate tickets to our student-athletes families.”
The updated guidance from North Carolina's public health department requires fans to wear masks and practice social distancing. It also prohibits schools from offering alcohol and concession sales.
“If the above criteria is met, DHHS supports NC colleges and universities including 2 family member spectators per athlete for up to 350 total per event,” the department said.
Other colleges look forward to having fans in person.
North Carolina team spokesman Jeremy Sharpe said the school has informed its players that "moving forward, they will all have access to a minimum of two tickets for their families.”
UNC was scheduled to host UNC-Charlotte on Saturday, but the game was canceled after a number of Charlotte players were placed in quarantine. North Carolina's next home game is scheduled for Oct. 10 against Virginia Tech.
East Carolina, which will host the Central Florida on Sept. 26, said in a statement it plans to utilize “all that is permitted” for families to attend the football games.
But not all schools are planning to allow fans into the games.
Duke won't allow parents to attend Saturday's home game against Boston College. Art Chase, a spokesman for Duke athletics, said the school would go forward with no fans in attendance.
Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.