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Bid by USC and UCLA to let family members attend football games is denied

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles in 2019.
Health officials aren’t allowing families of USC and UCLA football players to attend games at the Coliseum, above, or the Rose Bowl this season.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A joint proposal from UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond and USC counterpart Mike Bohn to allow family members of their respective football teams to attend games at the Rose Bowl and Coliseum this season has been declined by California and Los Angeles County health officials, according to sources with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified because they are not allowed to speak publicly on the matter.

The officials cited rising community spread of COVID-19 as the primary factor in their decision, two people with knowledge of the situation said, even after Jarmond and Bohn laid out protocols that would have allowed them inside the massive stadiums as safely as possible. The Rose Bowl seats 80,000 and the renovated Coliseum seats 78,000.

Parents had started an online petition to be allowed to attend home games in Los Angeles County after the Pac-12 Conference had said it would not stand in the way of family members showing up amid the pandemic even as fans were barred. Now it appears those family members will be shut out, at least in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

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Melva Thompson-Robinson, the mother of UCLA starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, said she planned to attend the Bruins’ opener against Colorado on Nov. 7 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo., where local health officials are permitting as many as 920 family members of players and staff to watch the game.

“This is huge!” Melva Thompson-Robinson said after learning she would be allowed to go to the game. “I’m so excited that I get to watch him in person. I have friends who are going to see their sons play. I just want to see him in person on the field doing his thing.”

According to a person with knowledge of the protocols that will be enforced for the Colorado-UCLA game, players must provide the Boulder County health department with the names and contact information of family expected to attend in the event contact tracing becomes necessary.

Family cannot have contact with players before or after the game, only speaking with them from a distance at a designated time.

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Should a UCLA player test positive on game day, a rapid PCR test would be given to confirm the positive antigen test. If the follow-up test is positive, that player as well as anyone who had been in close contact with him would be separated from the team.

Those players would then be sent back to Los Angeles via an air ambulance service contracted with the Pac-12. Any player who tests positive would be required to sit out for two weeks.

Per conference rules, only 74 players will be allowed to travel to away games.

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The joint appeal on behalf of UCLA and USC was not the first time Jarmond and Bohn, athletic directors at archrival schools, have combined forces. They appeared together on a Zoom call with L.A. County health officials in late September, helping to clear the way for a return to football practices. It was an important precursor to the Pac-12 reviving plans for a football season that had twice been delayed.


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