About 90 minutes before the marquee matchup between No. 1 Gonzaga University and No. 2 Baylor University was set to start on Saturday, the game was called off due to positive COVID-19 tests.
One Zags player and one of the team’s staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 in the run-up to the game against Baylor.
Amidst the global pandemic and a surge of positive coronavirus tests, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States, the titanic clash of college basketball heavyweights vanished from the schedule.
What’s more, Gonzaga University (3-0) is putting its season on hold through Dec. 14, the school announced on Sunday.
As a result, the Bulldogs’ home opener on Tuesday against Tarleton State in Spokane, Washington, is canceled.
“We decided that this was in the best interest of our student-athletes,” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. “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.”
Longtime Gonzaga head coach Mark Few guided his team to a national championship runner-up finish in 2017.
Upcoming Gonzaga University games
Gonzaga is now set to return to the hardwood against third-ranked Iowa in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Dec. 19.
After that, the Zags’ revamped schedule is slated to include their home opener against Northwestern State on Dec. 21.
The top-ranked Zags are coming of an 87-82 win over No. 11 West Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
Coaches react to the news
Few and Baylor coach Scott Drew said the schools need to listen to public health experts.
“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,” they said in a joint statement.
“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.”
In addition, Few and Drew have stated that they think Saturday’s game could be rescheduled later this season.
National scheduling problems
Moreover, it isn’t just Gonzaga University dealing with the fluidity of the schedule this season. CBS Sports college basketball pundit Garry Parish reported that roughly 21 percent of NCAA games” have been postponed or canceled” already this season, The Spokesman-Review reported.