Notre Dame tightens coronavirus safety rules amid backlash over fans storming field


Fans storm the field after Notre Dame defeated the Clemson 47-40 in two overtimes in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/Pool Photo via AP)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (NewsNation Now) — Notre Dame is implementing stricter coronavirus safety rules as the Indiana university faces criticism after thousands of fans stormed the field over the No. 4 team’s double-overtime defeat of No. 1 Clemson this weekend.

In a letter to students Sunday, Notre Dame University President Rev. John Jenkins expressed disappointment over the “widespread disregard of our health protocols at many gatherings over the weekend.”

The Fighting Irish’s first victory over a No. 1 team in more than 25 years led fans to rush the field in a postgame party that failed to follow social-distancing guidance.

There were more than 11,000 people in attendance at the Notre-Dame game, according to the university. Attendance was capped at 20% or less of the 78,000-seat stadium’s actual capacity, a university official said.

Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly had warned his players of this reaction before the Saturday game.

“I had told our team in our walkthrough today: ‘Just want you to know when we win this game the fans are going to storm the field. With COVID being what it is, we need to get off the field,'” Kelly said. “I beat them off the field.”

Jenkins said the school is now “even more concerned about the potential for contagion” as students prepare to travel home at the end of the semester.

Jenkins, who was among a number of people who contracted COVID-19 after attending a White House event last month, issued a zero-tolerance policy for any gatherings that don’t follow health and safety protocols, on or off campus. He said hosts of any such events will face “severe sanctions.”

Any student who wants to return for the spring semester must also appear for coronavirus testing when asked to do so, otherwise they’ll be placed on a registration hold.

“A registration hold would mean that you are unable to matriculate or register for classes next semester or receive a transcript,” Jenkins wrote.

He said it’s a change from an earlier policy that said those who failed to appear for testing would lose priority status for registration.

The university is also refusing to allow students to leave the South Bend area until they receive their testing results.

Anyone who is found to have left the area before receiving their results will be placed on a registration hold as well.

Earlier this fall, seven of the Fighting Irish players tested positive for COVID-19. Nearly a week ago, Clemson’s quarterback Trevor Lawrence tested positive for coronavirus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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