UK Deputy Athletics Director previews 2021 Caturday experience


Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Chris Oats (22) celebrates with fans after the Belk Bowl football game between Kentucky and Virginia Tech on Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. UK won 37-30. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

UK’s Deputy Athletics Director Marc Hill joined the media on Zoom Tuesday afternoon to clear up some of the questions reporters and fans alike have had since the guidelines were released last week.

According to UK’s game day policy, fans inside Kroger Field are not required to wear masks. While they strongly suggest that those who are unvaccinated to wear them, they are not requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Hill said that when dealing with large groups, they have no way of knowing who’s vaccinated and who’s not. “That’s the HIPAA protected information. That’s their prerogative,” he said about having lax regulations.

“We have followed all along throughout the last 18 months of the pandemic,” Hill said. “We’ve done our best to follow all of the state, local and campus regulations as it pertains to the COVID.”

Hill believes this situation is no different than how UK currently requires masks indoors on campus, “We have obviously a very, very good College of Medicine Healthcare Center, we feel like that the information they’re giving us is cutting edge,” he said.

Hill and the rest of UK’s athletic department trust the fans to adhere to the honor code when it comes to wearing masks and protecting those around them in a packed Kroger Field this Saturday as well as other games throughout the coming weeks.

“What we hope happens is everybody does what’s right for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and helps protect those around them,” Hill said. “If they’re not vaccinated, or they feel like they’re immune compromised somehow, then they will protect themselves in that situation.”

With no SEC-wide mandate, COVID regulations range widely from LSU, who is requiring everyone in attendance to either be vaccinated or tested negative within 72 hours of kickoff, to Georgia, who isn’t requiring anything at all. Kentucky did a little of both.

“The conference dialogue, the athletic directors and the Presidents both meet separately every week,” he said. “We’re moving together on things but as the pandemic has flowed throughout the states, we’ve kind of been doing what was right for our state and what we’re being told to do in our areas.”

One aspect of game day that has converted entirely online due to the pandemic is mobile ticketing, something UK plans on keeping around for the foreseeable future. UK originally featured completely mobile ticketing at the men’s basketball SEC Tournament.

“We learned through the COVID last year, and only having a small percentage of our fans in the stadium that it was something that was technology that was very usable,” Hill said.

Hill made sure to point out that he knows older fans may not be as keen to this new style of admission, but believes it’s only going to be a slight learning curve.

“Moving to this type of technology is not going to be easy,” Hill said. “That’s why we’re encouraging people to reach out to the ticket office. If they’re struggling, there’s some things they can do quickly over the phone that help get people to walk through it.”

Hill also answered the annual ‘beer at Kroger Field’ question: “With all the other changes we’ve got going on, we did not move into changing that yet this year,” he said. In other words, beer will not be sold outside of the suites once again in 2021.

Despite where you may land on the COVID debate, all fans can rejoice in the fact that normalcy is set to return to sports this Saturday with week one of the 2021 college football season, especially in Lexington.

“Come out, enjoy the tailgating and get yourselves parked and then start heading to the gates and come support the CatWalk so that everybody can get in the stadium and ready for kickoff,” Hill said. The CatWalk is set for 9:45 a.m. this Saturday prior to kickoff against ULM.

Hill advised all fans that have questions about ticketing information should head over to prior to game day.