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Montana State director of athletics Leon Costello discusses navigating winter sports through COVID-19

Sunday Conversation: Montana State athletic director Leon Costello excited by department’s growth
Posted at 11:37 AM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 20:18:41-05

BOZEMAN — On Wednesday, Montana State athletic director Leon Costello spoke on all things Bobcat athletics, but first he addressed why, as of right now, they won't have fans in the stands for upcoming winter sports.

“To be blunt, it was kind of decided for us with the way the numbers are going and with all the testing, with things we have to do and the limits with the groups of people," said Costello.

A big factor for basketball is that the teams only have to get 13 games in this season in order to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

“In order to get this kicked off right and get a few games under our belt, it just made more sense to start with no fans,” Costello said.

The Big Sky Conference is looking at implementing different measures, such as adding crowd noise into basketball arenas to give it a normal feel.

“We’re looking at all those things so that way when the players and coaches are playing and they’re competing that hopefully it feels a little bit normal for them, except for looking up into the stands,” Costello said.

MSU football relies on having fans in the stands to generate most of its revenue. However, things will have to get much better for that to happen.

“The virus is going to have to get better," said Costello. "Again, early on we're talking about flattening the curve -- we’re going to have to do that again because what we are seeing right now is not helping.”

Speaking of football, Saturday would have been the Cat-Griz football game.

“It’s a bummer," Costello said. "It really is. I feel for the kids, the student-athletes that have put in so much, but there’s just nothing that takes the place of that game.”

With basketball starting up next week, Costello is eager to watch the teams play.

“I just can't wait to watch, it's just going to be fun to watch our kids compete.” he said.