A small group of protesters stood outside the McCarthey Athletic Center Saturday night before Gonzaga’s game against Portland to express their frustration with the university’s mask mandate and the recent decision to suspend Hall of Famer John Stockton’s memberships.
The protest came a week after Stockton confirmed to The Spokesman-Review that the university disabled its subscriptions for failing to meet the university’s mask mandate to stop the spread of COVID-19. Stockton, a Gonzaga star in the early 1980s who played 19 NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz, told the SR he didn’t plan to attend another game at his alma mater until the school modifies the mandate.
A dozen protesters, some waving signs and others American flags, formed outside the south entrance to the kennel more than an hour before the Bulldogs’ 6 p.m. whistleblowing against the pilots. The group included mostly middle-aged men and women, but also two toddler girls – one of whom held an American flag while the other held a Gadsden flag.
Other demonstrators held signs reading: “Stockton is a legend! NO mask!” “I support Stockton. No mask!” and “Unmasked, unmuzzled, fearless.”
With the exception of a middle-aged man speaking through a megaphone, protesters stood in silence as fans made their way through the small group to enter the kennel.
In a 30-Minute interview with the SR on Jan. 22, Stockton said he spoke with Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford several times about the mask mandate that had been in effect since October before the university finally decided to suspend their tickets.
Stockton suggested that the relationship with his alma mater has not been broken off permanently, but may take some time to mend.
“I think that certainly underlines that. I’m pretty connected to the school,” Stockton said. “I’ve been on this campus since I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I was just born a few blocks away and had been sneaking around the gym and selling programs to play games since I was a little boy. So it’s tense but not broken and I’m sure we’ll get through this, but it’s not without conflict.