CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen has denied a request for colleges across North Carolina to allow families of football players to attend games in-person.
The request was made on Tuesday in a letter to NCDHHS by Appalachian State University, UNC Charlotte, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, East Carolina University and Wake Forest University.
“Like everyone else, our student-athletes, coaches and support staff have experienced tremendous disruption and upheaval over the past six months due to COVID-19 and its associated challenges,” the schools wrote. “Immediate family members are the single greatest source of emotional, psychological, and mental health support for football participants.”
Current state regulations allow just 50 people to gather at a time in outdoor settings.
The letter asked for 350 family members from each school to be allowed to attend home games and included a chart breaking down the capacity of each school’s football stadium and what percentage of the stadium’s capacity 350 would be.
The capacity ranged from 2.3 percent at UNC Charlotte to .6% at NC State.
“Many of these family members have already made plans to come to our campuses to support our student-athletes and support staff and, in all likelihood, many of them will still come to our campuses regardless of whether they are allowed inside the stadium or not,” the letter said.
In response to the letter, Cohen held a meeting by telephone on Thursday afternoon.
During the call, Cohen said she would not authorize the additional attendance at football games and said she did not believe football should be played at all during the pandemic.
A DHHS spokeswoman confirmed Cohen’s comments and pointed to the state’s guidance for youth and amateur sports.
“Currently, DHHS does not recommend sports activities for which participants cannot maintain social distancing and close contact is frequent or prolonged,” the spokeswoman said.
A source with knowledge of the call said Cohen’s comments got to push back from UNC Head Coach Mac Brown.