As COVID-19 cases spike in Southern Arizona and most parts of the United States, the Arizona Wildcats announced Sunday that they will no longer allow family members of athletes and staffers to attend home games.
The school said the ban is indefinite and the situation will continue to be monitored.
“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution as the athletics department continues to hold the health and safety of all as its guiding principles,” the school said in a release. “The department will monitor community health and safety guidelines while continuing to work in collaboration with University leadership, Pima County Health Department and the Pac-12 Conference.”
Arizona football coach Kevin Sumlin said after a home game vs. USC that having family members in attendance boosted the players’ morale. Each player was allowed to invite up to four family members. Each family was seated in a socially-distant manner inside the stadium.
“I thought that had some real significance to it because I could see guys when we came out even during warmups (had energy),” Sumlin said then. “You gotta realize these guys haven’t been home as part of COVID and lack of travel. Parents couldn’t come by the hotel last night or anything like that, so I feel bad for the Wildcat fans who can’t be here, but I thought there was some energy during warmups and during the game because of the families being there.”
Women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes had a different view, admitting she was nervous about the holidays and players potentially meeting up with their families if they traveled to Tucson, or away venues, for games.
“I had (assistant team physician) Dr. (Stephen) Paul talk to our team about the importance of this because everybody’s families are coming in,” she said last week. “So I’m nervous at the beginning of the season. Also because we open up (Pac-12 play) with UCLA—No. 9. So if anything happens this week, we don’t have our team in the opening weekend in Pac-12. So I’m extremely nervous and I’m not all that confident right now because I’m looking all around the country and everybody’s canceling left and right, so I just need to educate this week a lot.”