Drury University says it’s disappointed it will have to start a new basketball season without fans in the stands.
The Great Lakes Valley Conference says all teams, including the Panthers and Lady Panthers, will be limited to a 22 game schedule and face only conference opponents because of concerns over COVID-19.
The school is giving season ticket holders the option of requesting a refund, applying their payment to next season, or donating the purchase to the university.
The conference says the decision to have only essential personnel on site at games will be evaluated as the season progresses.
Here’s more from Drury University Athletics on the decision:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— The Great Lakes Valley Conference announced the schedule of regular season games for the men’s and women’s basketball teams for 2020-21 on Thursday. The GLVC’s Council of Presidents unanimously approved the league slate, limited to 22 games, and all played within the conference due to concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this time, the league’s Council of Presidents also voted to prohibit spectators at all GLVC games, which will be contested only with essential personnel.
“We are pleased that the conference is moving forward with a schedule, but obviously, we are disappointed that, at least for the moment, we have to start the season without fans,” said Drury University Vice President and Director of Athletics Corey Bray. “The result of not having spectators in the O’Reilly Family Event Center is a tough blow for our basketball programs in terms of the atmosphere and energy brought by our crowds, and it’s a setback for our athletics department economically.
“Currently, however, the Center for Disease Control continues to emphasize that large crowds are to be avoided,” continued Bray. “The health and well-being of all our fans is of paramount importance to us, and we want all of them back at the O’ cheering on the Panthers and Lady Panthers as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Last season, the Drury women’s basketball had the third-best average attendance at the NCAA-II level and will carry a 54-game home-court winning streak into this season, the second-longest active streak in D-II women’s basketball.
The DU men’s team ranked 12th in the nation in average attendance in Division II last year and compiled a home-court record of 209-31 under head coach Steve Hesser, who will enter his 17th season as the program’s head coach in 2020-21.
Due to the GLVC’s decision, season ticket sales for basketball have been suspended at this time. For those that have already purchased season tickets, Drury Athletics has created the Ticket Assurance Policy that provides the following options:
· Option #1: Apply your payment to next season
· Option #2: Reallocate your purchase as a donation to the university
· Option #3: Request a refund for your purchase
The decision regarding spectators at games may be re-evaluated by the GLVC Council of Presidents in the future. If policy changes regarding attendance occur and host schools are able to accommodate fans later this season, previously purchased tickets can be prorated towards those games that are played with fans for the remainder of the year. Fans can wait until March 1st, 2021, to notify the box office of their decisions. The O’Reilly Family Event Center box office can be reached by phone at 417-873-7000, or by email at Tickets@drury.edu.
The GLVC will play a 22-game league schedule, and the conference will be divided into three divisions. Both Drury teams will play in the West Division with William Jewell, Southwest Baptist, Rockhurst, and Missouri S&T. The East Division will house Illinois Springfield, Indianapolis, Lewis, McKendree, and Southern Indiana. Lindenwood, Maryville, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Quincy, and Truman State will play in the Central Division.
Drury’s 2020-21 basketball season will start on Friday, Nov. 27, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Both Drury teams will open their home schedule on Thursday, Dec. 3, against Southwest Baptist.
Once again, women’s weekday games will start at 5:45 pm with the men’s game scheduled for 7:45 pm. Saturday afternoons begin with the women’s game at 1 pm followed by the men’s game at 3 pm.
Drury’s men’s team will open the year against a UMSL team that was the co-conference champion in the regular season last year, and a squad that edged the Panthers at the buzzer in the league tournament. Drury will host Lewis on Saturday, Feb. 20, in their final home game of the season and will end the year on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Quincy.
The Panthers finished the 2019-20 season 20-9, and 13-7 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Drury will return nine lettermen, including All-Midwest Region and First Team All-GLVC selection Conley Garrison.
The Lady Panthers will start the season having won 58 straight conference games and 32 in a row overall following their 32-0 finish last year. Drury’s regular season winning streak stands at 67 with their last loss outside of the postseason coming on Jan. 18, 2018, at Bellarmine. With Bellarmine’s departure from Division II, the last remaining GLVC team to have beaten Drury is Southern Indiana, a team the Lady Panthers will play on the road on Saturday, Feb. 13 in Evansville.
The top eight men’s and women’s teams, based on the league’s Point Rating System, will advance to the GLVC tournament to be played March 4-7 at a site not yet determined.
The NCAA-II Midwest Regional is scheduled for March 13-16 at a host site while this year’s Elite Eight will be held at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, March 24-27.
The women’s Midwest Regional will be March 12-15 at the home of the top-seeded team, and the NCAA-II Elite Eight returns to Columbus, Ohio, on March 23-26.