The top-ranked men’s college basketball team in the country won’t suit up for at least a week.
A day after Saturday’s game against No. 2 Baylor was called off due to COVID-19, No. 1 Gonzaga announced Sunday that it is pausing all competition through Dec. 14.
“Out of an abundance of caution and the well-being of student-athletes, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols Gonzaga has made the decision to pause men's basketball competitions through December 14,” the athletic department’s statement reads.
“We decided that this was in the best interest of our student-athletes,” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said, according to The Spokesman-Review. “The health and safety of our players is our top priority. This decision was made with an abundance of caution in mind. This has been a very difficult decision, but we have all agreed that it’s the correct decision.”
That will mean at least five games postponed or canceled for the West Coast Conference school in Spokane, Wash. Gonzaga and Baylor released a joint statement in the hours before Saturday’s game was scheduled to tip.
“Following surveillance testing for COVID-19, one student-athlete and one non-student-athlete of the Gonzaga men's basketball travel party produced positive results,” Saturday’s statement read. “The student-athlete did not play in Wednesday's game against West Virginia. In consultation with the Indiana State Health Commissioner, the Marion County Public Health Director, and both team physicians, Gonzaga and Baylor have mutually agreed today's game will not be played. Both teams have agreed to attempt to reschedule the game at a later date.”
Gonzaga coach Mark Few and Baylor coach Scott Drew also released a joint statement, saying, "We're disappointed to not be able to play one of the most-anticipated games of the season, but we are following the advice of public health officials. When we decided to play during a pandemic, our priorities were protecting the health and safety of student-athletes and following public health guidelines, and we're proud of how both programs have held true to those promises. There are much greater issues in this world than not being able to play a basketball game, so we're going to continue praying for everyone who has been affected by this pandemic."
Gonzaga, which is 3-0, had a full week ahead. The Bulldogs were scheduled to play Tarleton State on Tuesday, Southern on Thursday, Northern Arizona on Saturday and Idaho on Dec. 14.
They will be eligible to return for the Dec. 19 game against Iowa in Sioux Falls, S.D. That will be more than two weeks after Gonzaga’s last game, an 87-82 win over West Virginia on Dec. 2.
“We’ve tried to dot every I and cross every T, and we’ve still had positive cases," Roth told The Spokesman-Review. "I try to be glass half full, but in this case, as hard as it is, maybe this was a helpful thing for people who are paying attention or maybe need to pay attention. We all need to do better.”