Illini families, friends get rare chance to see team play

Sports

COLUMBIA, MO. (WCIA) — A Big Ten attendance ban is keeping fans and the families of players and coaches at home this year but several dozen got the chance to see the Illini play over the weekend.

Missouri normally hosts about 20 percent of its fans at Mizzou Arena, but an agreement between Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman and Missouri AD Jim Sterk, meant no fans at the annual Braggin’ Rights game. It was all in an effort to keep things fair for both teams, after a coin flip determined home court advantage. The game had to be moved from St. Louis and the Enterprise Center to a campus site due to COVID-19. But the doors opened to family and friends of the team on Saturday, with lots of socially distant orange and blue dotted across the arena.

Illinois walk-on freshman Connor Serven’s parents took advantage. His dad Larry jumped at the opportunity to see his son in-person.

“Luckily we got to watch them on TV, to finally be in here, our first college game, and to have your son down on the floor, it’s just a really amazing feeling,” Serven said.

Larry hasn’t seen Connor since the summer, and won’t get an opportunity to visit for many months to come. The Illini did not get to go home for Thanksgiving, hosting a multi-team event in Champaign. The players will also have to stay on campus for Christmas, with the team playing Indiana on Dec. 26.

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