Catamount Athletics welcomed back a limited number of student-athletes in sports that have NCAA-permissible summer access last week. Those student-athletes, as well as coaches and staff who work in the closest proximity with those individuals, were initially screened and tested for COVID-19 by health care professionals from Harris Regional Hospital.
Seven out of 145 (4.83%) tests administered returned positive results for COVID-19 – which closely aligns with the current average locally within Jackson County for positive cases (4.15%) and is below the current State of North Carolina average (8%) – with each result coming from asymptomatic individuals;
All individuals who tested positive, and those identified as close contacts using the CDC definition for contact tracing, have been quarantined as per protocols and measures outlined in CDC guidelines.
Hello from Catamount Country!
It has been just over a month since I’ve moved into the athletics director role here at Western Carolina University, and though we live in extraordinary times, I remain equally as excited to be back in Cullowhee. I hope that you and your loved ones are well as we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19 together with both determination and optimism.
During the past month, I’ve had so many individuals reach out with words of welcome and positive messages as we navigate the current landscape of the world and the part intercollegiate athletics plays. I’ve also received many questions about what the fall will look like, whether or not we’ll play football and, if so, will fans be allowed to attend those games. One of the purposes of this letter is to begin to answer those questions.
First, we are preparing for athletic competitions this fall, including the 2020 season of Catamount football. We meet daily and are finalizing a plan to responsibly welcome you back to E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field on Saturday, September 19. But first, we have set in motion plans for the phased return of our student-athletes to campus beginning in July.
While we fully expect to play football this fall, we also anticipate opening at decreased capacity based on social distancing measures and guidelines. We know specific groups such as our WCU students, including our marching band, will be among a reserved ticket allotment. With that in mind, we are moving forward with a three-phase priority plan for admission to home games in Cullowhee this fall:
Fans who have renewed or purchased season tickets and renew their Catamount Club donation by June 30 will receive first priority to attend games this fall. This also includes fans who set up scheduled donations or a payment plan for their season tickets. Renew your Catamount Club gift or call (828) 227-3047 and renew your football season tickets or call (828) 227-2401; This is inclusive of season ticket holders who are not currently Catamount Club members and renew by the June 30 deadline.
Fans who renew their season tickets and Catamount Club donation by July 31 will be provided the opportunity to attend games this fall based on the capacity remaining after Priority I. This also includes fans who set up scheduled donations or a payment plan for their season tickets;
Fans who renew their season tickets and Catamount Club donation by August 14 will be provided the opportunity to attend games this fall based on the capacity remaining after previous priority phases (Priority I and II). This also includes fans who set up scheduled donations or a payment plan for their season tickets.
While we expect to be near our anticipated capacity limits through season ticket sales, in the event we do not hit our allowed limitations by August 14, we will begin selling any remaining single-game tickets on August 17 at a flat, single-game rate. Renewed Catamount Club members and season ticket holders will have priority access to single-game tickets before the general public beginning August 17. Any additional inventory from the initial priority sale will go on sale to the general public on August 21.
Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, any season ticket holder who does not renew their season tickets for 2020 will have first rights to their same seats for the 2021 football season. If the 2020 season is canceled because of COVID-19, any season ticket holder who renews their season tickets for this year will have the opportunity to work with our Athletics Ticket Office in discussing a refund or credit options.
There are so many great things going on around our campus including several athletics facilities projects that continue to show the progress we’ve only just begun. You may have recently read about the completion of the new Mondo track surface installed at the Catamount Athletic Complex, and we’ve begun the donor-supported turf replacement project at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field, both representing progress for our facilities.
Other on-campus initiatives include the facelift and structural improvements to the Ramsey Center exterior and the beginning of construction on the parking garage in our North Baseball Lot. Both are very visible university projects that represent our institution’s headway and both will affect Catamount football game days in Cullowhee in terms of egress and parking. Contact the Catamount Club for additional game day parking options.
We are looking forward to the return of our loyal Catamount Nation back to Cullowhee. As we are establishing measures to adapt our facilities with the well-being of our patrons, our student-athletes, and our athletics staff at the heart, we commit to frequent and transparent communications. We realize, however, that until there is an effective treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19, any large gatherings will carry risk despite reasonable precautions to ensure the well-being of fans. When we can come together again in shared celebration and attendance at our events, we will strongly urge every Catamount to be personally accountable and responsible for their health and to show respect for the health of others. That is what Catamounts do.
I hope this message further explains our current situation as we move forward towards the 2020-21 athletic seasons. Again, thank you for your continued support of the Catamounts!
Director of Athletics