Virginia Tech Football announced this afternoon that the program will not hold a traditional spring football game in 2021, due to ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. This is the second year in a row that the spring game will not occur. In 2020, the game was canceled because of the outbreak of the pandemic, and this year, a practice will be held instead of a public spring game.
“Regrettably, given the current restrictions in place and out of concern for the health and well-being of our community, our student-athletes and our fans, we have made the decision to not have a spring football game,” Virginia Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock said in a Virginia Tech press release (linked below). “We realize this is disappointing for many and certainly for our football team, but we believe that it is the proper decision for the Virginia Tech community and the town of Blacksburg. Additionally, we did not want to provide our fans with an experience which would be far less than they are accustomed to at Lane Stadium, including no tailgating. We certainly hope and expect this fall that they can enjoy our full gameday environment with Hokie Village, the Hokie Walk, the Marching Virginians, the Corps of Cadets, the VT Spirit Squads, tailgating and more.”
Current state guidelines limit attendance in outdoor venues to 1,000 people or fewer, depending upon the size of the venue. In Lane Stadium’s case, attendance would limited to 1,000.
(Update, 3/23/21 at 2:40 PM: Within an hour of this article originally being posted, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam updated COVID-19 restrictions for outdoor entertainment venues to limit attendance to 30% of capacity, which in Lane Stadium’s case would be 19,690 fans out of a capacity of 65,632.)
“The final element of conducting a spring game that proved problematic was determining an equitable way to allocate the very limited amount of tickets we would have been permitted to issue,” Babcock concluded. “With the limit at 1,000, it would have been limited to guests of student-athletes and would not have provided an opportunity for many fans to come to Lane Stadium anyway. Even if the appropriate officials and agencies were to move to a increased attendance protocol in the near term, it’s just too soon to jump back into it. I wish we could and we will soon; when it’s appropriate.”
Babcock added, “We will be offering our fans enhanced, behind-the-scenes features from spring football practices and our creative team will deliver exclusive interviews and other special features to our donors and fans throughout spring ball,” and indeed, Virginia Tech has been holding more press conferences and making more assistant coaches and football players available to the media than in past years.
In the month of March alone, the following football assistant coaches have spoken to the media: RB coach and offensive recruiting coordinator Adam Lechtenberg, cornerbacks coach Ryan Smith, defensive analyst Jon Tenuta, defensive line coach Bill Teerlinck, along with strength and conditioning coach Ben Hilgart unveiling the refurbished Merryman Center weight room.
Among players who have met with the media in March are: DT Norell Pollard, OT Luke Tenuta, WR Tayvion Robinson, RB Jalen Holston, LB Dax Hollifield, and QB Braxton Burmeister. In addition, safety Tae Daley has been featured in a “get to know” video released by Virginia Tech.
All interviews cited can be seen on the hokiesports.com YouTube page.
The spring game has historically served as a valuable recruiting tool for the Virginia Tech football program, as tens of thousands of fans flock to Blacksburg and the program hosts dozens of recruits. With in-person recruiting being barred by the NCAA through at least May 31st, that opportunity doesn’t exist.