Notebook: Raymond James to receive pandemic-related upgrades

Raymond James Stadium was approved to receive coronavirus-related upgrades, but they won’t be completed until late October, more than a month after USF’s home opener Sept. 12. Oracle File Photo

A big step has been taken to ensure staff and fans’ safety at Raymond James Stadium after a proposal to retrofit the venue with pandemic-related renovations was approved Wednesday.

The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners, by a 6-1 vote, approved plans to allocate up to $10.4 million of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to upgrade the stadium with coronavirus preventive measures.

The Tampa Sports Authority, which operates Raymond James, will implement over 40 modifications, including contactless backgrounds and thermal imaging upon entering the stadium.

The plan is to have all upgrades rolled out in three phases. Phase three is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Phase one will include the implementation of a public address system used in parking lots, touchscreen ticket scanners for entry gates, temperature checks and portable wash stations and public restrooms retrofitted with touch-free toilets.

The modification of the press box and the building of temporary booths within the stadium will come in phase two.

Phase three will include the modification of entry gates, the east and west clubs and media checkpoints, which will now include canopies.

USF has yet to unveil seating capacity and ticket sale policies. The Bulls’ home opener is set for Sept. 12 against Bethune-Cookman.

Viens nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year Award

Even after her days as a Bull, former women’s soccer star Evelyne Viens is still making waves in college sports. She was chosen as USF’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. The full list was released Tuesday.

The award recognizes graduating female student-athletes who have distinguished themselves academically and athletically.

“Evelyne Viens is a worthy candidate for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award because she embodies excellence in not only athletics but service, leadership and academics,” women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown said in a statement. “Evelyne strives for greatness in all areas of her life and we are excited to see the impact she will have on society as she continues to leave her mark.”

Viens joins nine other nominees from the AAC. A total of 605 women from all divisions are nominated.

The AAC will select two student-athletes from a pool of 10 nominees. From there, the Woman of the Year selection committee will choose the top 30 honorees. The committee will then select the top three honorees from each division for a total of nine finalists.

The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will name the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year this fall from the list of nine finalists.

New numbers revealed in football photo shoot

A few team-related nuggets of information were dropped by USF during its football photo shoot Wednesday.

Photos posted on Twitter and Instagram confirmed new jersey numbers for both returning players and recent additions.

Although it was already more or less confirmed by himself, photos revealed quarterback Jordan McCloud wearing the No. 3 jersey. 

He wore No. 12 as a redshirt freshman last season.

Transfer quarterbacks Cade Fortin and Noah Johnson from North Carolina and Alcorn State, respectively, were pictured in full USF uniforms for the first time, revealing their jersey numbers.

Fortin will wear No. 6, a number he wore during his time with the Tar Heels, and Johnson will wear No. 0, the first USF football player to do so after the NCAA announced it would allow college football players to choose the jersey number starting this season.

Other players confirmed to have changed numbers are running backs Johnny Ford and Oregon transfer Darrian Felix. Ford made the switch from No. 20 to No. 1, and Felix will don the No. 2 jersey left vacant by former player Jordan Cronkrite.