College basketball conferences across the nation are concerned about the spreading of COVID-19. In the case of the Big West Conference, the league decided Tuesday that no fans will be allowed to attend its men’s and women’s postseason tournaments this week at Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid and Honda Center in Anaheim.
Women’s early-round games are being played Tuesday and Wednesday at Walter Pyramid, then will switch to Honda Center, where the men will play all their games beginning Thursday and running through Saturday.
“The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed toward playing in the tournament all season,” Big West commissioner Dennis Farrell said in a statement.
“Many of our institutions are developing plans to minimize the interaction of individuals on their campuses that could include the downsizing of events.”
Fans, who might receive a full refund for tickets purchased, will be able to catch tournament games via a variety of ESPN channels or streaming platforms.
Long Beach State men’s coach Dan Monson, whose team will play top-seeded UC Irvine on Thursday at 6 p.m., didn’t know what to make of the decision.
“I think I’m not sure because I just don’t feel like I’m educated enough to know if we’re overreacting, if we’re underreacting or if it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I don’t think anybody really knows, so I just have to trust the people above us are making the right moves here.”
Monson was a bit disappointed about what this means for the families of players involved.
“I’m grateful for our players that they still get to play,” he said. “The Ivy League, I know, canceled theirs. So I’m excited for our players to be able to do that. But I feel for their families that have sacrificed as much as the kids sometimes to get them to this position and won’t be able to be there to watch it with them.”
UC Irvine men’s coach Russ Turner is glad the tournament will still be played. As Monson mentioned, the Ivy League canceled both its men’s and women’s tournaments. The Mid-American Conference on Tuesday announced its men’s and women’s tournaments will be played without spectators other than family members of student-athletes, according to ESPN.com.
“We’re just appreciative of the chance we have to compete,” Turner said. “That’s the way I feel about it as a coach, that’s the way I know my players feel about it. Around the country, there are some leagues where they’ve not given the players that opportunity, so I feel really fortunate and grateful.
“That’s the way we’re going to look at it. I think it’ll be unusual, but not so unusual that we won’t have a chance to take a shot at what we’ve been preparing all year to play for.”
Mike Lyster, chief communications officer for the city of Anaheim, issued a statement regarding this decision by the Big West.
“The decision does not reflect any unique concern about Anaheim, nor is it at the recommendation or advice of the city of Anaheim, the Orange County Health Care Agency or the California Department of Public Health. The decision is being taken out of an abundance of caution by the tournament at a time of heightened awareness about coronavirus and recent steps by universities and colleges in response to the outbreak.
“Anaheim and Honda Center respect the decision but want to make sure players, families, fans and residents know at this time there is no concern about playing, watching or hosting sports here.”
WHO IS ALLOWED IN?
The following personnel will be allowed into the basketball tournament facilities for this week’s Big West basketball tournaments:
• Submitted bench list (25 maximum)
• Essential game management personnel at Walter Pyramid and Honda Center
• Credentialed media approved through the credential system
• Non-competing student-athletes on the team roster, but not on the bench list
• Coaches and student-athletes of teams for scouting purposes
• ESPN and ESPN3 Crews
• Temporary Access Credentials – 12 per institution for institutional employees or students only. Four additional temporary access credentials per team will be provided for use by institutional employees/students only. THESE FOUR MUST BE DESIGNATED BY AN ADMINISTRATOR.
• Members of men’s teams still alive in the tournament can attend their institution’s women’s games and vice versa.
Source: THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER