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Texas A&M AD on fine for face coverings: ‘We have to stay disciplined & stay the course’

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 4 days ago Brent Zwerneman
a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera © Sam Craft, Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said the Aggies were fined by the Southeastern Conference for “sideline face coverings” – or lack of at times during No. 11 A&M’s 41-38 victory over No. 10 Florida last weekend at Kyle Field.

A&M was one of three SEC schools – along with Mississippi and Tennessee – fined $100,000 by the SEC, according to Sports Illustrated. The money is removed from the league’s annual revenue distribution, Bjork said while in Mississippi State’s press box on Saturday afternoon.

The Aggies face Mississippi State and new coach Mike Leach at 3 p.m. Saturday in Davis Wade Stadium.

“It’s constant dialogue,” Bjork said of keeping diligent on the sidelines concerning masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s not that anyone is opposed to (the face coverings), it’s just the heat of the moment (and) you’re in a game, you’re trying to instruct and it’s hard. … It’s hard to communicate … we just have to stay disciplined and stay the course.”

Bjork added that the league makes the rulings primarily off of television camera angles. In addition, at least 21 Florida players tested positive for COVID-19 in the days following the Gators’ loss at A&M, but Bjork said he was not ever really concerned the on-field interaction between the teams would lead to multiple positive virus tests for the Aggies.

“All the evidence was in playing the game transmission was highly, highly unlikely,” said Bjork, adding that evidence is not from him but from medical personnel.

“To me it’s all about what happens (when players) leave the facilities and staying disciplined and (wearing) face coverings – those are the things you worry about,” Bjork said. “You just take it test by test.”

Kyle Field had about 24,000 fans in attendance for the Florida game.

“Face coverings (by fans) was a lot better,” Bjork said in comparison to the season opener against Vanderbilt on Sept. 26 at Kyle, “but we need to do better with student spacing, and we can fix that.”

The Aggies (2-1) are off next weekend before hosting Arkansas on Halloween. Bjork said he’s not yet sure if tailgating will return in some form this season by the Oct. 31 game. No tailgating on campus has been allowed the first two games.

“We’re going to study that this coming week,” he said.

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