OPINION: Hosting the A-10 Tournament was lose-lose for the community

Opinions writer discusses uptick in COVID case after St. Bonaventure game.

Lucinda Judd
Contributing Writer

The University of Dayton took a risk hosting the St. Bonaventure and Virginia Commonwealth University A-10 game, and we may get burned.

This semester, UD has had low numbers of active COVID-19 cases, including the seven-day moving average of new cases staying below ten. However, when UD hosted two basketball teams from out of state, it opened the campus and surrounding community to new people and potential  new cases. 

Hosting the game allowed for national attention, which is beneficial to the university’s publicity, but with the recent spike in VCU’s COVID-19 cases and the slight rise in cases here at UD, was it worth it? 

Granted, UD cannot blame VCU and St. Bonaventure for the slight uptick in cases, especially after the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations here on campus. The game and the parties occurred around the same time making it difficult to point to either event as the cause if cases were to spike. 

The UD men’s basketball team was knocked out of the A-10 tournament relatively early on with a 68-73 loss to VCU. Despite confirmed cases in Montgomery County falling below 200 daily, the pandemic is still raging across the country.

There was no real reason to host two out-of-state teams. It only takes one event to spread COVID-19 to many. By hosting two teams from outside of Ohio with no entry testing, the event at UD Arena could have caused a large rise in the number of cases at UD and in the surrounding communities. 

A few days after the Bonnies victory over VCU, the Oregon-VCU March Madness game was declared a no-contest after the team had several positive tests. 

“I want to make sure it’s clear. This isn’t something where our team broke protocol and did the wrong thing,” Ed McLaughlin, the VCU athletic director said in an article for ESPN. “We don’t know how this happened, but it certainly wasn’t bad behavior on our side whatsoever.”

With the lack of clarity with how the team was exposed, one has to wonder if the team had accidentally exposed others as well or if others were unknowingly exposed in the same way.

The Rams believe that they may have been exposed by the poor conditions of the hotel they stayed in during the conference. Typically the NCAA would have complete control over the location and has strict rules that all must follow but that was reportedly not the case at the Dayton Marriott.

“There was some [other] event there,” a source said in an article for CBS Sports. “There were kids, parents and people with differences of opinion [about COVID-19] and the hotel staff — I witnessed the ladies at the check-in yelling to people walking through the lobby about putting their masks on.” 

Others possibly exposed to the virus were fans and employees in the University of Dayton Arena watching and working the game. Visitors, despite traveling from outside of Ohio, were not required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon entry, just a valid ticket. 

“All fans are asked to perform a self-health assessment before leaving for UD Arena. Those exhibiting symptoms or not feeling well are asked to please stay home” said the UD Arena’s COVID-19 Safety Protocol page. 

However, asymptomatic cases are still very real and with the change in weather it is likely that if a fan were to have a congested nose to just pass it off as allergies. The arena does enforce the wearing of face masks except when eating or drinking, but it is doubtful that every individual in the building followed that protocol.

The surge of visitors for the game also caused local bars and restaurants to deal with rather discouraging behaviors. Reportedly, a few St. Bonaventure students were arrested, but fearing administrative backlash, a student familiar with the situation has declined to comment.

UD has increased its surveillance testing of students, and if cases do rise there is more than just one factor to consider when asking why.

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