May 20, 2020 / 3:47 PM / in 15 days

Michigan's Harbaugh prefers empty stadiums to no games

Running out of the tunnel at Michigan Stadium with no fans is a reality Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh prefers over the alternative — not playing games at all in 2020.

FILE PHOTO: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Harbaugh said Wednesday in an ESPN interview that he would be comfortable coaching games in stadiums without fans. That might be a reality for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Major League Baseball is planning to return by July 4 with Opening Day, which was originally scheduled for March 26, in home stadiums with no fans in attendance for safety reasons.

NBA and NHL officials continue vetting options for a return. Neither league has held a game or practice since the second week of March.

“Heck yeah, I’d be comfortable coaching a game without any fans,” Harbaugh said. “If the choice were play in front of no fans or not play, then I would choose to play in front of no fans. ... Darn near every guy I’ve talked to on our team, that’s the way they feel about it.”

Most major conferences prohibited team activities in March and extended those orders in late May, including the Big Ten. Spring sports and their championships were scrapped in March.

Harbaugh said there is no reasonable way to test all fans who’d enter Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., which is known as The Big House for its capacity of 107,000.

“You can definitely test both teams. You can test the officials and everybody,” Harbaugh said. “Can you test 100,000 fans coming into a stadium? Probably not — probably not without a vaccine, you couldn’t do that.”

No Big Ten activities will take place before June 1, and that date remains tentative.

—Field Level Media

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