After the administration’s decision to have instructors decide if their courses should be held in person beginning Jan. 18, UC Santa Barbara Athletics has made no new announcement regarding fan attendance. As of now, UCSB will not be admitting fans until the 17.
The original decision to delay fan attendance for the winter quarter directly correlated with the school’s decision to have all learning done remotely. However, now that some students will be returning to campus, the athletic department’s choices have become more complicated. UCSB will need to make a decision soon, as the men’s basketball team plays at home only three days after the original ban on fan attendance is lifted.
UCSB Athletics may choose to continue their attendance ban or have limited capacity to keep players and staff safe from the Omicron variant that is sweeping through the country. Both the men and women’s basketball teams have already been affected by this new variant as games where opponents had COVID outbreaks were canceled. With prior experience with the omicron variant, UCSB Athletics understands that seasons could be delayed or ultimately canceled if a program experiences an outbreak. Having hundreds of fans breathing on student athletes would not be the best way to protect the programs at UCSB or keep competition going.
As things stand, UCSB students can assume that attendance will be allowed after Jan. 17. However, a new announcement from UCSB Athletics will be made in the coming days regarding whether or not the Gaucho faithful can support their student athletes in the future.
At the end of the day, the main goal of UCSB Athletics during this pandemic is to protect their athletes and staff, as well as the student body as a whole. With data at their disposal, prior experiences with Omicron and the administration’s decision to hold in-person classes to some extent, the athletic program at UCSB can be expected to make the best decision possible when it comes to safely having fans return to athletic events.