Though Gov. Gary Herbert’s Sunday night announcement of an emergency health order to slow the spread of the coronavirus limits social gatherings to immediate family and mandates masks statewide in Utah, it came with a slew of loopholes that allow people to congregate in various settings.
One includes allowing colleges to continue playing sports with fans and using whatever COVID-19 testing protocols are currently in place for participants.
But with cases and hospitalizations surging to new heights each day, Weber State announced Monday that it would begin the 2020-21 men’s and women’s basketball seasons with no fans in the Dee Events Center.
The hoops teams will play without spectators through the end of the calendar year, and the possibility of allowing fans in 2021 will be decided later “to allow flexibility based on changing conditions surrounding the pandemic,” according to a statement from the school.
“This announcement takes into consideration the rising case numbers in the area and aligns with Weber State’s commitment to the well-being of its student-athletes, coaches, staff, and the community,” the statement reads.
The WSU men’s basketball team has not released its five-game nonconference schedule, but the Wildcats are slated to play home games against Utah State, Adams State and one more unannounced team from the season’s start on Nov. 25 through the end of December.
The women’s team has five home games slated before January, including three conference matchups, that will be played in an empty arena.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, the leaders of our institution have made the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the community at large a priority,” Athletic Director Tim Crompton said in the school’s statement. “They have done this while making every effort to provide ways to move forward. We anticipate and are prepared to welcome our fans back into the Dee Events Center when it is safe to do so.”
All games will continue to be streamed via Pluto TV on a web browser or on mobile/streaming device apps. Men’s games will be broadcast over the air on 103.1 FM The Wave.