Gonzaga has suspended John Stockton’s men’s basketball season tickets due to the Hall of Famer’s failure to comply with the school’s mask mandate, he confirmed to The Spokesman-Review.
Stockton, whose No. 12 jersey was retired by the school, told the newspaper he was informed of the decision by Gonzaga sporting director Chris Standiford. Stockton described the conversation as “sympathetic” but “not pleasant”.
“Basically it boiled down to, they asked me to wear a mask at the games and being a public figure, someone a little more visible, I kind of stayed in the crowd,” Stockton told the newspaper. “And as a result, they got complaints and felt like from all the higher ups – those weren’t discussed, but whatever was higher up – they were going to have to either ask me to wear a mask or they would suspend my tickets.”
Stockton went public with his views on the COVID-19 vaccine in a film released in June.
Standiford declined to be quoted by the newspaper, instead issuing a statement saying, “We will not discuss specific actions taken with specific individuals. We take the 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. The recent decision to suspend McCarthey Athletic Center concessions is an example of this approach. Gonzaga University places the highest priority to protect the health and safety of students, employees and the community.”
Gonzaga requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test 72 hours before attending a sporting event. According to the newspaper, the school got stricter with its mask mandate after suspending concessions at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Stockton told the newspaper that Gonzaga’s decision “highlights” his relationship with the school, but said it can be fixed over time.
“I’ve been on this campus since I was probably 5 or 6. I was just born a few blocks away and I’ve been sneaking around the gym and selling programs to play games since I was a little boy. So it’s tense but not broken, and I’m sure we’ll get through this, but it’s not without conflict,” he told the newspaper.
The top-ranked Gonzaga has five home games left this season. Stockton told the newspaper that when the mask mandate changes, “tickets will be offered again.”
Stockton, 59, played in Gonzaga from 1980 to 1984. He is still the school’s all-time leader in steals (262) and steals per game (2.4). He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 after 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz during which he was 10 times All-Star, and he helped the USA men’s basketball team win two Olympic gold medals.