Missouri Southern has announced its plans for attendance at the Lions' four home basketball games in December.
For the first two home games on Dec. 3 and 5, only families of the MSSU men's and women's players will be allowed to attend. For the games on Dec. 17 and 19, Lionbacker season ticket holders will be allowed to attend, and the seating maximum at the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center is set at 10% (400).
"The Presidents Council made the final decisions," MSSU athletics director Jared Bruggeman said. "But it was worked on by a lot of people in a lot of meetings, and it has gone through many, many renditions. We'll give this a shot. Twenty-five percent is the most you can have in the MIAA. We're looking at nobody except family for the first two home games and 10% capacity for the next two home games. That's where we're at right now. We will reevaluate as we progress through."
All 14 MIAA schools have released their protocols for basketball attendance. While there are differences at each school, in general all of them will require mask wearing except when drinking or eating and social distancing. And in most places, tickets must be purchased in advance. There will not be any ticket sales on game day.
Missouri Southern is one of the places where temperatures will be taken before people are allowed inside the arena. If the temperature is too high, a recheck will be allowed after five minutes.
Missouri Southern is the only school in the league that will not have concession stands open. However, a bottle of water will be given to each fan when entering the building.
MSSU also will not have any cheerleaders, dance teams or pep band at the first four games. There also will not be any visiting fans admitted for the first four games.
"We're trying to protect our institution the best we can and take care of our fans and our student-athletes and their families right now," Bruggeman said. "Again, this is the first rendition. We will reevaluate."
Basketball during COVID-19 presents different problems than football, which is in postseason play now for high schools around the area.
"There are more issues with indoors vs. outdoors," Bruggeman said. "We have a very large facility and are not talking about very many people involved. I think it's OK."
Around the MIAA, nine schools are starting the year allowing the maximum 25% attendance — Pittsburg State, Central Missouri, Central Oklahoma, Fort Hays State, Lincoln, Missouri Western, Northeastern State, Rogers State and Nebraska-Kearney.
Northwest Missouri is allowing 20% attendance, and Emporia State, Newman and Washburn are allowing family-only crowds to start the year.
The MIAA tips off its 22-game, conference-only schedule on Thursday night, and COVID-19 has already caused problems.
One doubleheader — Pittsburg State at Newman — has been postponed and rescheduled for next Tuesday, Nov. 24.
The Northwest Missouri-Northeastern State doubleheader is now a women's game only as coronavirus issues with the NSU men's team has forced that game to be rescheduled for Dec. 31.
"It is up to each institution to decide the impact of a COVID exposure, how many people are impacted by contact tracing and who on campus must quarantine," MIAA Commissioner Mike Racy wrote in an email. "Conference policy is to analyze each basketball contest separate, and it is possible for one game to be played and the other to be (postponed) as a result of a COVID test or exposure."
The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which is in the same region as the MIAA, announced its basketball schedule earlier this week.
The 16-team league will play a 16-game schedule over eight weeks starting in January, but teams will play only one opponent per week. Yes, teams will play against the same opponent on both Friday and Saturday night, with the exception of the first week, which will be Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 2-3.
League schools will play a team from the opposite division in the first weekend, and then they will face all their division foes during the next seven weeks.
The Great American Conference, the third league in the Central Region, will begin its basketball season on Thursday, Jan. 7.
Teams will play a 20-game schedule consisting of four games against each of their five division foes. Games will be played on Thursdays and Saturdays and the occasional Monday.
Arkansas Tech, Arkansas-Monticello, Harding, Henderson State, Ouachita Baptist and Southern Arkansas will comprise the Eastern Division.
East Central, Northwestern Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptist, Southeastern Oklahoma, Southern Nazarene and Southwestern Oklahoma are in the Western Division.