Austin Peay athletics are back in full swing.
With the June announcement that fan attendance has returned to full capacity this fall, season tickets are on the verge of breaking previous purchase records.
Gerald Harrison, APSU’s athletic director, is cautiously optimistic to start the season of sporting events and hopes to see fans of all sports in full force.
“If you look across the country, you find that people want to get back to live sporting events,” Harrison said during a meeting with media members on Tuesday. “Luckily for us, we get a chance to provide it for five opportunities in the fall in football and in our other sports.”
Harrison was able to attend the women’s soccer tournament last Friday against Kansas State and was thrilled with the fan turnout.
“I think people want to get back outside and commune with each other in some way, in a safe environment, and that’s what we are going to try and do,” he said.
To provide a safe environment for athletes, the athletic department is following the same protocols from last spring, as well as university and NCAA guidelines.
On top of vaccinations, the department is ensuring that masks are worn while inside buildings, time is limited in the locker rooms and athletes are tested before every game. Harrison said that coaches and players have been good about following protocols because of the excitement around having fans in attendance.
The APSU football team, now “somewhere around the 70% mark” for vaccinations, is an example of such. According to Harrison, the team plans to be at full strength for Thursday’s season-opening game at Chattanooga.
While the current plan is to keep events at full capacity, Harrison added that APSU’s fan attendance for all sporting events is being assessed on a game-by-game basis due to each sport holding its own risk.
He hopes to see 10,000 fans in Fortera Stadium when the Governors open the home portion of their season on Sept. 18.
“I am really excited,” Harrison said. “I did not think I could be as excited as I was when I took the job. Three years later, I am more excited. We call it a dawn of a new day. We have some new coaches, new energy … we have it all. It truly is a new day.”