FULLERTON, CALIF. >> The Big West Conference is not allowing any “non-essential” people — a list that includes fans, bands and cheerleaders — to attend the league’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments this week.
The mandate is in response to fears over COVID-19. The Big West notified the participating teams this afternoon that only players, coaches, referees, “essential” personnel and media will be allowed to attend the games.
The Rainbow Warriors are set to play in UC Davis in Thursday’s opening round of the men’s tournament in the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The ‘Bows have been in California the past week after ending their regular season with road games at UC Davis and Cal State Northridge.
The Rainbow Wahine are scheduled to play their first tournament game Wednesday at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.
“All season long our players have played for the person to their left and to their right,” said Rainbow Wahine coach Laura Beeman in a statement. “With the announcement from the BWC regarding canceling fan participation for the tournament this mantra will resonate louder than ever. The health and welfare of everyone is always our first concern. Whether there are fans in the seats or not, we will not be alone. Aloha cannot be stopped.”
UH had been scheduled to bring its band and cheerleaders to both tournaments.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing that we won’t be able to play in front of our tremendous fans, our band, cheerleaders and dancers who always travel so well in support of us,” Hawaii men’s coach Eran Ganot said in a statement. “Right now, we are only concerned with what we can control. Despite the unique situation, our focus will continue to be on preparing for the tournament and putting forward the best performance we can.”
Also today, the Ivy League canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Ivy League’s four-team tournaments were scheduled to be played Friday through Sunday at Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, Mass. The Ivy League instead will award its automatic NCAA Tournament bids to the regular-season champions, the Princeton women and Yale men.
The Mid-American Conference said it was implementing a restricted attendance policy at its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in Cleveland this week. That announcement came on the heels of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recommending that all indoor sporting events in the state be played without spectators on site.
“I’m sure it was a difficult decision for the Big West Conference, as it was for both the Ivy League and MAC, which have also taken measures with COVID-19,” UH athletics director David Matlin said. “I particularly feel for our dedicated fans who have sacrificed their time and resources to make their way to Anaheim to support our men’s and women’s basketball programs. Regardless, this will not hinder our teams from representing the state of Hawai‘i with a championship mindset.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.