University forbids spectators for rest of school year
The ban on spectators at UCSB sporting events has been extended to the end of the school year, university officials announced Tuesday.
A UCSB statement noted that all events on campus will remain closed to spectators “per our campus and regional protocols.”
“We all realize how disappointing this is,” UCSB director of athletics John McCutcheon said. “Our home crowd gives us a competitive edge, and we would love for you to be in the stands cheering on your Gauchos.
“All of the rules and protocols that have been established are for the protection of our student-athletes, coaches and staff and will allow them to compete.”
The fan ban has been used to good effect throughout the basketball season. The Gaucho men have, so far, had no positive tests for the coronavirus. The women’s team had its first three games canceled in late November after receiving a positive test within the coaching staff, but all subsequent tests have been negative.
UCSB’s baseball team will play its first game at 3 p.m. Friday when it begins a three-game home series with Santa Clara. The two teams will also play Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
University officials said the game will not be allowed to proceed when spectators attempt to watch the action through the perimeter fencing.
“Our campus remains closed to all but essential personnel, and we must discourage all of you from attempting to watch a game from outside the venue,” a university statement said.
Baseball and swimming are the only winter and spring schedules released so far by the Gauchos. The rest, however, are expected to be announced in the coming days
UCSB, which has been ranked as high as No. 8 in the national preseason baseball polls, had won eight consecutive games last year to improve its record to 13-2 when the NCAA canceled the rest of the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since spectators won’t be allowed, UCSB’s games at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium will be played during the daytime. It drew two of the largest crowds in school history during the evening after last year’s installation of stadium lights. The Gauchos drew 483 on this day of last year, Feb. 17, when it trounced Cal 17-7, and 571 on March 3 when it knocked off No. 1 UCLA, 8-5.
Of UCSB’s 58 games this spring, 33 will be played at Uyesaka Stadium, including 13 of 18 non-conference contests.
“We’ve got UCLA, which is top-five in the country,” Gaucho coach Andrew Checketts said. “We’re playing Pepperdine, and they’re picked to win their conference and were a bubble top-25 team last year. We’ve had a lot of good battles with them.
“We’re also playing USF, which beat Fullerton two out of three games last year. And Oregon is coming here, and they’re going to be very good. I think it’s a very competitive schedule, and we have only one plane flight — to Hawaii for a conference series.
“It’s unfortunate that fans won’t be able to attend, but we do have a really good video stream so our family and fans can follow us.”
The video stream can be accessed at ucsbgauchos.com.
UCSB’s non-conference home series after this weekend will be against Pepperdine (a doubleheader on Feb. 27), Oregon (March 5-7), USF (March 12-14), and UCLA (a single game on May 15).