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Jones talks Trojan athletics with Troy Rotary Club

Troy University Director of Athletics Brent Jones spent his Tuesday afternoon speaking to the Troy Rotary Club. Although the meetings are normally held at the Troy Country Club, Tuesday’s meeting was held virtually.

During his 15-minute presentation, Jones spoke on the state of the athletic department since COVID-19 shut down sports in March. He also spoke about the plans heading into the 2020 college football season.

The Troy Trojans women’s basketball team had just won their first-ever regular season Sun Belt Conference Championship and were on their way to New Orleans for the conference tournament when they received the news that the season had been canceled. Since then sports all over the world at many different levels have been affected by the virus.

“This is the most unprecedented time we have ever had in higher education,” Jones said during the meeting. “March 12, if I can steal a quote, is a day that will live in infamy. That’s the day the NCAA decided to cancel winter sports as well as spring sports. That was devastating. That was a watershed moment and we haven’t been able to get out of it.”

When the decision was made to cancel the seasons in March, Jones admited it was a tough decision but the decision to return has been harder.

“We are starting to see the tougher decision is when to start,” Jones said. “Troy University is the leader in the Sun Belt Conference and we have made a determination to play football this fall along with soccer, volleyball and cross country.”

The football team was the first to arrive on campus on June 1, followed by the men and women’s basketball teams the volleyball and soccer teams on July 6. During that time each student athlete was tested when they arrived on campus and testing has continued since. All student athletes and coaches have been following health and safety guidelines including keeping group activities small, staying six feet away from each other, using hand sanitizer and always wearing a mask.

“This is the world that we live in and this is what we need to do to keep having sports,” Jones said.

Football will be the first sport to return to campus this fall when the Trojans host Louisiana Monroe on September 5. Jones admitted to the rotary members that the athletic department was in a ‘precarious situation’ after conferences like the Big Ten and Pac 12 decided to postpone their season. Despite having to alter their schedule numerous times, the Trojans are scheduled to play 12 games this season, six of which will be at home.

“I felt that it was important for our student athletes, four our community as well as our fans to be able to play six home games,” Jones said. “We are a huge economic driver in Pike County. To be able to have the fans come back and the students here in the fall is big. I thought it was important to have 12 games for the student athletes who have been working since June 1.”

When the season does kick off on the first Saturday in September, a limited number of fans will be in attendance. Along with the full Sound of the South Marching band and cheerleading team, all season ticket holders and students will be allowed inside the stadium.

“We have policies and procedures that will go inside the stadium,” Jones said. “Everyone has to wear a mask and we’re also have social distancing. Every season ticket holder will have two seats in between them.”