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John Stockton Says Gonzaga Suspended His Season Tickets Over Refusal to Wear Mask

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 1/23/2022 Andrew Gastelum
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The Bulldogs legend said the university asked him to follow a statewide mandate to wear a mask at games.

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John Stockton has been a fixture at Gonzaga basketball games, but the Bulldogs alum said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review that the university suspended his season tickets for failing to adhere with a statewide mask mandate.

Under Washington state law, all people, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear a mask when others from outside their household are present, with limited exceptions. Indoor sporting events are not considered an exception.

Known as one of the sports world's biggest vaccine skeptics, Stockton said he considered ”in great detail” wearing his mask in order to keep his season tickets before the university's decision.

“Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit,” Stockton said. “And therefore they received complaints and felt like from whatever the higher-ups—those weren’t discussed, but from whatever it was higher up—they were going to have to either ask me to wear a mask or they were going to suspend my tickets.”

Per The Spokesman-Review, Stockton was present at Gonzaga's WCC home opener against Pepperdine on Jan. 8 but wasn’t seen in his normal seat against BYU and San Francisco.

Gonzaga requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours to attend home games and also has suspended food and beverage sales at games to promote mask-wearing. While the Gonzaga's athletic director and president declined to comment, the university did release a general statement.

“Gonzaga University continues to work hard to implement and enforce the health and safety protocols mandated by the State and by University policy, including reinforcing the indoor masking requirement," the statement said. “Attendees at basketball games are required to wear face masks at all times.

“We will not speak to specific actions taken with any specific individuals. We take enforcement of COVID-19 health and safety protocols seriously and will continue to evaluate how we can best mitigate the risks posed by COVID-19 with appropriate measures.”

As one of only two Gonzaga men's players to have their numbers retired, Stockton said that he hoped to maintain the relationship with his alma mater.

“I think certainly it stresses [the relationship with Gonzaga],” Stockton said. “I’m pretty connected to the school. I’ve been part of this campus since I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I was just born a couple blocks away and sneaking into the gym and selling programs to get into games since I was a small boy. So, it’s strained but not broken, and I’m sure we’ll get through it, but it’s not without some conflict.”

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