EVERETT — The Northwest Athletic Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments scheduled for this Thursday through Sunday have been suspended indefinitely as a result of a campus-wide, weekend-long closure for cleaning at tournament host Everett Community College.
The Peninsula College women were scheduled to open the single-elimination tournament at 10 p.m. Thursday against Clackamas, while the Pirate men were set to tip off at 8 p.m. Saturday against Lower Columbia.
College president Daria Willis made the decision to close the campus as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) after consulting with college officials and following the advice of Snohomish County public health officials.
“Out of an abundance of caution, I closed Everett Community College at noon [Thursday] for cleaning,” Everett Community College president Daria Willis said in a statement on the school’s website.
“All classes are canceled and all offices are closed. The closure will continue through Sunday.
“At this time, no members of the EvCC community have been diagnosed with COVID-19. We have received reports of students and employees who were exposed to COVID-19, but we are not aware of any student or employee who has tested positive.
“I made this decision today in conjunction with the President’s Policy Group after the update provided today by Snohomish County and Snohomish Health District to take proactive steps to protect the health of our entire community.
Initially, Willis’ statement said the tournament would be held as scheduled but participation would be limited to athletes, coaches, tournament officials and other NWAC-designated officials.
That soon changed.
The NWAC followed up with its own statement.
“A short while ago the NWAC was notified that Everett CC closed down the campus effective immediately. The NWAC in conjunction with Everett Community College has suspended the NWAC Men’s and Women’s Tournament. Details will be forthcoming on the rescheduling of the tournament.”
The Peninsula women were in the ferry line at Kingston when they were informed, according to Rick Ross, Peninsula College’s associate dean for athletics and student life.
Ross said the decision to suspend the tournament wasn’t unexpected.
“We are disappointed obviously, but safety first,” Ross said. “We were anticipating that this could happen with the outbreak in Snohomish and King counties. In some ways I am relieved because we are not going to have our fans and players over there and potentially being exposed.”
Three games in the women’s tournament were completed Thursday. Mount Hood upset Whatcom 75-72 in double overtime, Wenatchee Valley blew out Tacoma 70-47 and North Idaho edged Lower Columbia 53-50.
Up in the air
As for rescheduling the tournament, Ross said that decision remains up in the air.
“I spoke to Pierce College athletic director Duncan Stevenson who is chair of the NWAC Executive Board,” Ross said.
“He called me and said they are considering alternative sites, with the possibility of continuing next weekend. He didn’t have any idea of where that might be because of the potential spread of the virus.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]