WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The UNCW men’s and women’s basketball teams will start the 2020-21 season in about a week with no fans at Trask Coliseum during November and December.
“It’s going to be weird I guess,” UNCW super fan Michael Barnes said.
Campus officials have approved a request for a 25-person home pass list for the first two months of the season. They say these tickets wi9ll be reserved for athletes’ family members.
“We were really looking forward to it to get into the school spirit and show off our school, and just have fun and meet new people,” UNCW freshman Taryn Houlihan said.
As a freshman, Houlihan says basketball games were one of the things she was most looking forward to this year.
“We are faced with an opponent that knows no rules or timelines,” Athletics Director Jimmy Bass said. “As we have done over the last nine months, our decisions will be based on local and state guidelines. And, as always, our decisions will be made with the health and well-being of our student-athletes at the forefront.”
After nine months of watching from home or missing sporting events completely, Barnes was hopeful he might be able to be back in the stands this winter.
“The World Series allowed fans in,” he said. “I was optimistic we were kind of heading in that direction, but certainly I understand the health concerns. Health is certainly a number one priority.”
UNCW Athletics officials say the restriction impacts two men’s and four women’s basketball games.
“It’s kind of sad because that’s like one of the biggest sports that UNCW has, because we don’t have football,” Houlihan said. “So basketball games are usually huge, and everyone always says to go to them and get into them.”
Barnes says the fans are a huge part of what makes the atmosphere inside Trask so exciting. He says he thinks it’s going to be challenging for players and coaches inside a quiet arena.
“You know, when you have the students there, when you’ve got a pretty good, rowdy fan base as well, it’s definitely a little bit of a home court advantage I would say,” Barnes said. “Even in the past few years when UNCW has been maybe a little down, it’s still one of the greater atmospheres in the conference.”
But Barnes is optimistic he’ll have a spot back in Trask come the new year.
“Some basketball is better than no basketball,” he said.
Attendance for the Colonial Athletic Association campaign will likely be determined by parameters established later by state officials.