The University of Arkansas announced Wednesday (March 11) the suspension of university-sponsored travel for the next 60 days. However, the UA Athletic Department will continue to travel but has new rules for who travels and the type of transportation to be used.
Travel suspension is part of a growing concern nationwide about the growing numbers of Americans diagnosed with COVID-19 (coronavirus) and dying from the virus.
Travel suspension announced by UA officials allowed vice chancellors to make exceptions within their divisions. University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek issued the following statement late Wednesday.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of our student-athletes, coaches and staff is our highest priority. The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has and continues to work in conjunction with University of Arkansas and Southeastern Conference officials in regard to precautions related to COVID-19.
“Earlier today, the University of Arkansas announced it was implementing a measure suspending university-sponsored out-of-state travel – both domestic and international – for the next 60 days. Within that directive, however, vice chancellors were afforded the authority to consider travel within their units based on individual circumstances.
“At this time, Razorback Athletics is moving ahead with planned team travel and competition with the following additional precautionary measures. Team travel parties will consist of essential personnel. All team travel will be conducted via chartered aircraft and ground transportation. No commercial travel will be utilized for competition. Other travel, not specifically related to competition, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
“We will monitor this evolving issue and continue to work in coordination with directives from the University of Arkansas, the SEC and the NCAA.”
The UA travel suspension comes as many organizations and local governments ban large gatherings. For example, NCAA President Mark Emmert also announced Wednesday that the upcoming “March Madness” tournament for men and women’s basketball would be played with “essential staff and limited family attendance.”
“The NCAA continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 in consultation with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel,” Emmert said in a statement. “While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States.”
The UA also announced Wednesday night that, in conjunction with other SEC schools, all home athletic events in Fayetteville will be played with restricted attendance effective immediately. Those restrictions will be in place through at least March 30. Conditions will be re-evaluated on that date. Similar restrictions were announced for the 2020 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, other SEC Championship events and all on-campus regular season games hosted by an SEC school through March 30.
Only essential team personnel, limited family members and credentialed media members will be permitted into all scheduled athletic home events at the UA and all other SEC campuses beginning Thursday.
“Without these extraordinary circumstances we would be looking forward to hosting thousands of Razorback fans on our campus in the next few weeks to cheer on our student-athletes,” Yurachek said in a statement. “However, our first priority is the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff as well as the wellbeing of our loyal fans who support them. We will continue to work with the University of Arkansas, the SEC and NCAA in regard to this rapidly changing issue. We appreciate the patience and understanding of all those impacted by these measures.”
Information regarding ticket refunds for Arkansas Razorback home events impacted will be available in the coming days for season ticket holders and fans that have purchased single-game tickets.