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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Support fades for moving WCC basketball games to Las Vegas

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 4, 2020

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Saint Mary's Gaels during the second half of a West Coast Conference championship basketball game on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Nev.   (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Saint Mary's Gaels during the second half of a West Coast Conference championship basketball game on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at The Orleans in Las Vegas, Nev.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The bubble appears to be bursting on the notion of West Coast Conference men’s and women’s basketball teams playing conference games in a quasi-bubble environment in Las Vegas.

Conference officials have discussed the concept for a few weeks, but there are numerous potential hurdles and it doesn’t seem to have the support of WCC athletic directors.

“The sense I got from the (athletic directors’ Zoom) call (earlier this week), we didn’t vote but it was clearly the vast majority – if not 100 percent – were on the same page that there’s just too many variables to make it work,” Gonzaga Athletic Director Mike Roth said. “I don’t believe the bubble is going to move forward, but I don’t have final say on that.”

It’s up to WCC presidents to determine if they want to discuss the Las Vegas idea or not. The presidents are expected to hold a meeting Thursday.

Roughly a month ago, the conference office released a 16-game men’s schedule with eight home and eight road games and an 18-game women’s slate. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many conferences to adjust scheduling formats and formulate back-up plans.

“Last week as the tide started to change about how everybody felt, we focused more on the (original) schedule and the concept that all 10 schools are operating in as safe a manner as possible and with as much control as possible,” Roth said. “Everybody has had low instances (of COVID-19 cases) on their campuses. If we were to move it to a different location, we’re going to lose a lot of the control we would have.”

Attempts to reach WCC Commissioner Gloria Nevarez were unsuccessful.

Roth noted that lengthy hotel stays for men’s and women’s teams would have been an expensive endeavor. The WCC obviously doesn’t have the resources to run a tightly controlled bubble the way the NBA did for months in Orlando, Florida, where NBA players had access to fishing trips and golf courses.

“If this is the only way for the conference to be able to play, so be it, and we’ll be in Vegas ready to go,” Gonzaga junior guard Joel Ayayi said, “but obviously we’d love to be able to play at home.”

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