Southern Miss readies for season opener

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Southern Miss wants to show off the golden spirit of its faculty and staff Saturday as the Golden Eagles kick off the 2017 season at 3 p.m. at M.M. Roberts Stadium against Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky.

The K-Cats are looking for revenge after last year’s 44-35 defeat in Lexington, Kentucky, and Southern Miss supporters are asked to wear gold apparel for this Saturday’s game, which is Faculty/Staff Appreciation Night, recognizing the efforts and contributions of the USM community.

With the opening of the home season, the University reminds fans of a few changes at M.M. Roberts Stadium this fall, especially a pair of updated safety measures with the implementation of both clear bag and golf cart policies.

The clear bag policy enhances safety and expedites fan entry at Southern Miss athletic events. The policy will be in effect for all athletic venues.

University Police Chief Bob Hopkins said the clear bag policy allows for an extra level of security and protection for spectators.

“It will also decrease wait times at entry points and dissuade those who may attempt to bring items into the event that would prevent them access,” he said.

Only one clear plastic bag no larger than 12-by-6-by-12 inches – or a one-gallon, resealable clear plastic storage bag – per person will be admitted into the stadium. Fans will also be allowed a small clutch purse not to exceed 4.5-by-6.5 inches.

Exceptions will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose.

No other bags will be allowed; all items, including clear bags and clutch purses, are subject to search at the gates. Anyone who wants to buy clear bags go to Barnes and Noble at Southern Miss or Campus Book Mart at 2906 Hardy St.

Also starting Saturday will be the new golf cart policy, restricting golf cart access on campus, beginning three hours before kickoff. Hopkins said the change helps spectators be safe and secure.

“Beginning this football season, only authorized vehicles will be allowed access to the stadium’s inner security perimeter starting three hours before kickoff,” he said.. “We remind fans to obey all barricades and signage. Only Southern Miss vehicles, law enforcement, fire, medical or the official Southern Miss game day shuttle/escort service will be allowed access to this secured perimeter. No privately owned golf carts or other non-traditional modes of travel will be authorized.”

Golf carts or other modes of non-traditional transportation on to campus are considered vehicles under state law and should abide by all of the Rules of the Road in the Mississippi Traffic Code as well as campus policy for a non-traditional vehicle. Each vehicle must include only licensed drivers, insurance, tag and proper equipment.

For tailgaters, Southern Miss allows personal tent setups in open green spaces on campus beginning the day before a home football game at noon. During days that classes are in session from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., normal parking rules will be enforced on campus. No parking is allowed in emergency lanes or no parking/24 hour reserved parking zones.

Tents and other tailgate items must be removed from campus grounds by noon the day after a football game to achieve a smooth postgame campus cleanup. Items that are not removed by then will be collected and stored at the Physical Plant offices for pickup.

All spaces are on a first-come basis and no pull-behind cookers or grills are allowed on grass areas without prior approval from the University. Automobiles are prohibited from the grassy and tree-lined areas unless approved by the University before game day.

Small, portable, single-unit grills are permitted. All burning or hot charcoal must be disposed of properly; do not dispose of on any grass area, in trash cans or dumpsters. Portable generators with a decibel rating of 60db or less are permitted for tailgate use.

Additional specific tailgating guidelines apply to Spirit Park and The District.