FULLERTON, CALIF. >> The basketball seasons for the University of Hawaii’s men’s and women’s teams ended today when the Big West Conference announced it was canceling the league’s basketball tournaments over fears about the coronavirus.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed,” UH athletic director David Matlin told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We’re disappointed for all the players who worked hard on the men’s and women’s side. That said, it’s all about safety first. We have to be mindful of that. I support the decision. I think it’s the right decision. But a lot of athletes worked very hard to put themselves in this position (to play in the tournaments). But it’s the right decision, and it really is about the safety of our student-athletes and our community.”
On Tuesday, the league announced that only coaches, players, “essential” personnel and media would be allowed to attend the men’s tournament at the Honda Center in Irvine, Calif., and the opening rounds of the women’s tournament in the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.
The Rainbow Wahine defeated Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday night in the near-empty Pyramid.
But as conferences across the country announced the cancellations of their tournaments, the wave eventually reached the West Coast. The Rainbow Warriors had just finished breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant when they were told of the possibility of canceling the tournament. When the official announcement was made, the team began seeking new flight reservations back to Honolulu.
Matlin said he empathized for UH fans who made arrangements to travel to a tournament they would not be able to attend.
“You’re not just driving,” Matlin said. “I’m disappointed for them. And we’ve got some awesome fans. Most of the tournaments we sell the most tickets. We represent really well. We’re blessed to have a great fan base. These are unprecedented times now. I appreciate their understanding of the situation. I feel for them. This is a world-wide situation.”