How KU plans to handle, enforce latest mask mandate at Allen Fieldhouse
Late last week, University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod sent a message to the campus community stressing that Douglas County’s new mask mandate does include Allen Fieldhouse.
But there’s more at stake for Kansas basketball fans who don’t comply with the mask mandate than just disappointing Girod.
According to a page on the official Kansas Athetics web site titled “Mask Mandate – Implications for Allen Fieldhouse,” there is a strict set of rules and consequences for wearing and not wearing masks at upcoming KU basketball games. Those fans who violate those rules could be removed from the venue.
The page notes that “if fans do not comply with the mandate, additional measures will have to be taken, (including) closing concessions and decreasing fan attendance at men’s basketball games.”
But the Q&A section spells out in much greater detail everything that will go into the mask requirement and KU’s policing of it, starting with Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game against Iowa State.
The most noteworthy part of that section is what KU calls a “Three strike policy,” which carries a maximum penalty of fan removal from Allen Fieldhouse.
Here’s a look:
Strike 1: Usher warning
Strike 2: Event Staff Supervisor warning
Strike 3: Removal team (public safety and event supervisor)
Under the section explaining Strike 3, the site notes that “these employees are trained in the art of ‘ejection.’”
“If fans do not comply with this mandate, they will be removed from Allen Fieldhouse,” the site reads.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic — be it when Allen Fieldhouse had a mask recommendation or a mask requirement — KU notes that fans must be wearing a mask at all times except while actively eating or drinking.
The word “actively” is written in all caps for emphasis, and the rule references that if too many fans “try to pretend they are actively eating or drinking” that could lead to the closure of concessions stands at future games.
“There are a number of arenas around the country that have closed concessions at basketball games for this exact reason,” the site notes.
When asked about Girod’s message last week, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said the mandate was not a threat but rather reflected the reality of the current landscape, with the omicron variant pushing the latest COVID surge.
Self said last Friday that he would coach in a mask if those were the rules, and he did exactly that during KU’s loss at Texas Tech over the weekend.
“It is important to remember the reason behind this mask mandate,” the site reads. “KU and Allen Fieldhouse are looking to play an important role in protecting the community by doing our part to slow the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 variant. If our fans comply, as we expect them all to, our hope is to significantly slow the spread of this virus.”
For his part, Self made a plea for fan cooperation by reminding them of what they could be missing out on if people do not comply.
“If you like attending KU basketball games, which 16,000 do every single time we play, then you’re going to have to mask up and respect that,” Self said. “And if we respect it and handle it right, hopefully in the very near future that will be given back to us (and) we don’t have to do that (anymore).”
The KU men are scheduled to play back-to-back home games this week against Iowa State on Tuesday and West Virginia on Saturday. They’ll play two more home games at the end of January — Jan. 24 vs. Texas Tech and Jan. 29 vs. Kentucky.
The KU women’s team is on the road for its next two games but still has two home games scheduled this month — Jan. 16 vs. Baylor and Jan. 22 vs. Texas Tech.