Following the release of the new (and hopefully final) 2020 Big Ten football schedule, the Nebraska athletic department sent out an email to season-ticket holders thanking them for their support.
Notably absent: the same kind of “we’ll see” sentiment surrounding fan attendance that was present around the league this week and briefly during a Wednesday news conference with AD Bill Moos and UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green.
Here’s the letter from Moos, in full:
Dear Husker Fans,
I hope you are as excited as our players and coaches about the return of Husker football. Coach Frost, our players, parents, and our University leadership fought hard to have football this fall. I have never been more proud to be at Nebraska than over these past few months.
It was a great day for all of Nebraska earlier this week when the Big Ten announced our team would be back on the field in late October. Today is the next step toward returning to action with the Big Ten schedule announcement. Our schedule will begin with an Oct. 24 road game at defending Big Ten Champion Ohio State. The home schedule will begin on Halloween with a matchup at Memorial Stadium against Wisconsin. Full details on our 2020 football schedule are available on Huskers.com.
As you heard earlier this week, no fans will be allowed at Big Ten games this fall. I was personally disappointed in this decision, as we had plans to safely host games at Memorial Stadium with a limited number of our great fans. However, we respect that the Conference’s decision was made with the priority of keeping our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community as safe and healthy as possible.
I would like to again thank our loyal fans for their patience and generosity throughout this unprecedented time in the history of our football program. Our team will miss the Sea of Red this fall, and I know all of you will miss Saturdays in Lincoln.
While we won’t be able to fill Memorial Stadium this season, we know Husker Spirit will be alive and well throughout our state. Our Athletics staff is working hard on creative ways to engage Husker Nation during games this season. We look forward to rolling out more details in the coming weeks.
I can’t wait to welcome all of our fans back to Memorial Stadium in person for the 2021 season. In the meantime, if you have questions about your season ticket account, please contact the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office.
Go Big Red!
Peep the third paragraph.
With its announcement this week that football would be returning under strict health and safety protocols, the Big Ten revealed that it would also be prohibiting the sale of tickets to all home games within the conference (though families of players and staff will be allowed in). It was a departure from the approach other Power leagues have leaned on, leaving decisions on attendance caps up to the individual schools.
Moos was not thrilled.
“Both Chancellor Green and I pushed very hard in our respective meetings that attendance should be based on local authorities, health officials, local governments, etc,” he said. “In our footprint, our situation is different. But that does not appear that it’s going to be the case.
“Certainly did not want it to be a deal-breaker. We’re going to think of some innovative ways to have our fans involved. We love our fans, they’re the greatest fans in college football, and hopefully we can get them involved in some innovative ways. We’re already working on that.”
Moos said the important thing is that “our fans are going to have Husker football.” However, Green added the approach to fan attendance might just be in place for now.
“Might this be revisited or might it be considered? I’ll go back to what I said earlier, this is, of course, a fluid and dynamic situation,” he said. “I think we’re going to know a lot more in November than we know today and we will continue to evaluate what those conditions are. It is not lost on me that there are other conferences that are playing and competing as well. … And there are examples of where that is being done successfully. We will continue to learn more as we move forward.”
There was some speculation that the Big Ten might get through a few weeks without fans in the stands and then reconsider. Not like there isn’t precedent for saying “this decision won’t be revisited” and then revisit the decision.
Nebraska found out Saturday morning the home schedule for the new season will feature Wisconsin (Oct. 31 weekend), Penn State (Nov. 14 weekend), Illinois (Nov. 21 weekend), and Minnesota (Dec. 12 weekend). That’s a pretty beefy slate of games to miss out on. Nebraska likely would have had demand through the roof for tickets if they’d been made available.
But, Nebraska will “respect” the conference’s decision and move forward with a significantly quieter Memorial Stadium. (Additionally, recruits won’t be on hand for visits, as the dead period was again extended by the NCAA, this time until Jan. 1, 2021.)
When the season was postponed in early August, Nebraska gave season-ticket holders the opportunity to obtain a full refund without it affecting their status moving forward, to donate their payment to the university, or to convert it into credit for tickets for the 2021 season.
Moos said Wednesday only 20% of respondents opted for a refund.
“This is a rough time, we want to support you, we want to be with you,” he said Wednesday in response to those requests. But, “about 60% said you keep our money and please apply it to next season when hopefully we’re going to be back to normal, and only 20% said we would like a refund. We’re with you, but these are tough times for everybody, not just in athletics and they’ll be back next year. So I think that was a tremendous response.”
When it looked like the university wouldn’t have a season, the athletic department was projecting revenue shortfalls that could exceed $100 million. In seven home games last season, Nebraska totaled $35 million in revenue. All but $5 million of that came from ticket sales.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.