Vanderbilt Commodores will play without fans through October

Vanderbilt has announced that the Commodores will start the fall season in all sports without any fans at home events through October.

Athletic director Candice Lee said Friday that health and safety concerns about COVID-19 is why Vanderbilt is keeping fans away. Playing without fans will allow officials to focus on minimizing risk to students and coaches, and Lee says that will help their ability to finish the season.

In football, Vanderbilt hosts sixth-ranked and defending national champ LSU on Oct. 3, with South Carolina visiting Oct. 10 and Mississippi on Oct. 31. Attendance was announced at 32,048 for Vanderbilt's game last season against LSU at the Southeastern Conference's smallest stadium.

The university will be offering fans virtual programming that includes a virtual tailgate and live pregame show to make up for not being able to attend games.

Lee said Vanderbilt will continue consulting with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and local public health experts to decide fan attendance for events after October.

Vanderbilt, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is less than five miles from Nissan Stadium, where the NFL's Tennessee Titans will host Jacksonville on Sept. 20 for their home opener with no fans in the stands. Nashville's MLS team also is playing without fans at Nissan through September.