Why Vanderbilt is banning student attendance at home games until at least Jan. 24

Aria Gerson
Nashville Tennessean

As part of a Commodores Care quarantine period, Vanderbilt students will not be able to attend  home athletic events until at least Jan. 24.

Commodores Care requires students to avoid the vast majority of in-person activities upon return to campus in an attempt to slow the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19. Students are allowed to leave their residences only to attend class, get food or supplies, seek medical attention, exercise outdoors or perform essential work.

The university pushed the start of the semester back one week, to Jan. 17, and the dorms and Greek houses, where the majority of Vanderbilt students live, will not open until Jan. 15. This means the primary affected basketball games will be the Jan. 18 men's game against Tennessee and the Jan. 20 women's game against Missouri.

This is not the first time Vanderbilt has implemented Commodores Care. The period was also required for students returning in the winter of 2021, however, only family members of athletes were allowed to attend games. Currently, the general public is free to attend Vanderbilt basketball and other games as long as they present proof of vaccination or a negative test.

The majority of fans who attended the Commodores' non-conference games were seated in the student section. 

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Vanderbilt men's basketball (9-4, 1-0 SEC) faces South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee at home in this period. Women's basketball (10-5, 1-0) faces Tennessee and Missouri.

"Everybody is trying to do the best to keep each other safe and healthy and I know that Vanderbilt has done an incredible job over the past year and a half so their decisions will always be respected and backed by me," women's basketball coach Shea Ralph said after Vanderbilt beat Arkansas in its SEC opener Thursday. "It's obviously disappointing to not have them in the stands but I think it's definitely the right thing to do to stay safe and healthy and get out of this rush of COVID that we have right now. And for us, again, something we can't control."

The athletic department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Aria Gerson covers Vanderbilt athletics for The Tennessean. Contact her at agerson@gannett.com or on Twitter @aria_gerson.