The University of Hawaii Athletics department responded on Tuesday regarding the decision by the Big West Conference to play the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments without fans this week in precaution of potential spreading of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.
“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. 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,” said UH Athletics Director David Matlin in a press release.
UH Basketball coaches also released written statements on the matter:
Laura Beeman, UH Women’s Basketball Head Coach
All season long our players have played for the person to their left and to their right. 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.
Eran Ganot, UH Men’s Basketball Head Coach
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. 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.
In regards to events featuring other UH teams being affected, to this point all other games and matches are set to go as previously scheduled. The Rainbow Softball and Baseball teams will be hosting events this week on Lower Campus, while to UH Men’s Volleyball team will leave on Wednesday for two matches at CSUN this weekend and a single-match at Pepperdine on Monday.
On Tuesday afternoon, KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello spoke with some members of UH teams who explained that even though they might not have a part in any decisions on what happens regarding fans at events, they remain focused on what they can do in regards to outbreak prevention.
“Right now, I’m more concerned about what are we going to do after a game? Are we going to give high-fives? Are we going to give elbows? Are we going to just do something different?” said UH softball head coach Bob Coolen. “That is something that I talked to David Matlin about, Ive talked to my players about and now I need to talk to the visiting team. I don’t want to disrespect anyone but I also want to be very careful with what’s going on in the world.”
“Maybe leave the Aloha Spirit a little beside this time, not to kiss and hug everybody that we meet,” added volleyball standout Filip Humler. “I think that would probably be a smart choice. On Friday night, if I just imagined how many people I touched and hugged on Friday night at the autograph session, I’m like, oh, I don’t know if that was the greatest idea, but yeah, obviously we love our fans.”