Ohio State’s spring football game, which was originally scheduled for April 11 at Ohio Stadium, has been canceled amid concerns over the coronavirus, the university announced Wednesday night.
The decision was made in the aftermath of recommendations from Gov. Mike DeWine, who has called for sporting events in the state to be held with limited spectator and plans to issue a public health order later this week.
>> This story is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find more stories on coronavirus here. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Columbus Dispatch at subscribe.dispatch.com.
Attendance at other home Ohio State sporting events for the rest of the academic year was also to be limited to student-athletes, immediate family members, coaches and staff, essential event management, operational and facility staff and credentialed media members.
Five events were scheduled to be held on campus this weekend, including the baseball team’s home opening series, a women’s gymnastics meet on Saturday and a men’s lacrosse game on Sunday.
No annual event in the spring has drawn bigger crowds to campus than the spring football game, which saw 61,102 fans in attendance last year and often packed more than half of the stadium.
The school said it will provide refunds for fans who purchased tickets, which had been on sale since last month.
The spring marks the end of spring practice, a collection of 15 workouts held over March and April.
Other college football teams in Ohio, including Kent State and Cincinnati, canceled their versions of spring games earlier this week.
An Ohio State spokesman said the team plans to resume practices as scheduled when it returns from spring break next week.
Its fourth practice was to be held Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, along with a pro-day workout on March 25 for NFL teams’ talent evaluators.
Minutes before the school announced the cancelation of the spring game, the Buckeyes’ football program had put forward other in-person recruiting restrictions due the coronavirus outbreak, which saw a fourth confirmed Ohioan diagnosed with the illness on Wednesday.
Coach Ryan Day said that they suspended official and unofficial recruiting visits through April 20 and prohibited assistant coaches from recruiting off campus during the spring evaluation period, which begins on April 15.
Day announced the recruiting restrictions in a tweet Wednesday night, citing a need "to monitor and adjust to today’s changing issues."
Ohio State announced this week that official university domestic air travel was to "be limited to business essential travel."
The spring evaluation period, in which coaches visit with prospects on their high school campuses, runs through May 30, according to the NCAA’s recruiting calendar for the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Recruits often visit schools during spring practices.
Earlier Wednesday, Michigan, the Buckeyes’ archrival, announced it was also suspending in-person recruiting through April 21, as well as canceling its spring game.