MISSOULA — There will not be fans at Dahlberg Arena to start the 2020-21 University of Montana men's and women's basketball seasons, the school said in a Friday morning release.
The decision is due to rising COVID-19 case numbers in Montana and Missoula County.
“We appreciate the work of the Missoula City-County Health Department and are excited our student-athletes will once again compete in Missoula,” UM athletic director Kent Haslam said in a statement. “Our student-athletes and coaches love playing in front of Griz fans. But as we start back up again, it is best we do so without crowds for the time being.”
The school has been working with the health department specifically on this issue for the last few weeks and UM did leave the door open for the possibility of fans later in the season.
Montana State also recently announced it would not have fans at its home basketball games.
On Nov. 19, the MCCHD put down new regulations, one of which allowed for intercollegiate competition.
"The Health Department may approve sports plans with more than 25 intermingling players if those plans comply with recommendations and requirements of the Big Sky Conference and NCAA, including enhanced testing and COVID-19 safety protocols that are designed to provide equivalent public health protections to the group size restriction in this Rule. Limits on group size continue to apply to any spectators at the event."
UM women's basketball is set to host four games in Dahlberg Arena in December — Southern Utah on Dec. 3 and Dec. 5, North Dakota on Dec. 7 and Utah Valley on Dec. 21.
The Grizzly men are currently not slated to begin home play until a Dec. 31 contest against Northern Colorado.