WCC, Big West tourneys without fans due to COVID-19

The West Coast and Big West conferences will play their men’s and women’s basketball tournaments without any fans in attendance because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Both tournaments are scheduled to be played in Las Vegas: the WCC from March 4-9 at the Orleans Arena, and the Big West from March 9-13 at the Michelob ULTRA Arena inside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

“This is certainly a difficult decision, but it is the responsible decision for the WCC,” WCC commissioner Gloria Nevarez said in a news release issued Tuesday. “The WCC Tournament has been sold out ever since the event was moved to Las Vegas 13 years ago and we value the passionate fan bases and the ability of friends and families of our student-athletes to support their teams each year. Unfortunately, we are in unprecedented times and we must take unprecedented measures.”

Mark Few
Gonzaga Bulldogs coach Mark Few. (James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

Howard Gillman, the chancellor of UC Irvine and the chairman of the Big West board of directors, concurred.

“When we began the season, the Big West Board of Directors were united in the view that mitigating risk and protecting the welfare of our student-athletes and coaches were paramount,” he said in a news release.

“In an environment with 19 teams in action, where one positive test can potentially eliminate several teams and end their dream of competing for a championship, the reluctant decision to play without fans was necessary to maintain the focus on health and safety.”

Entering play on Tuesday, No. 1 Gonzaga leads the WCC men with a record of 22-0 (13-0 conference). UC Santa Barbara sits atop the Big West (16-3, 10-2).

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)