Gonzaga suspends John Stockton's season tickets for failing to follow mask protocol

Gonzaga University opted to suspend the season tickets of NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, one of its most prominent alumni, after the star continuously failed to comply with the school's mask mandate.

Stockton told The Spokesman-Review that Gonzaga Athletic Director Chris Standiford told him of the decision. The men's basketball team is ranked No. 1 in the recent Associated Press Top 25 poll and has 10 games, including five at home, until the West Coast Conference championships and NCAA men's tournament in March.

Stockton's Gonzaga season tickets revoked

John Stockton
NBA Hall of Fame John Stockton had his Gonzaga men's basketball season tickets revoked for failing to comply with the mask mandate at at McCarthey Athletic Center. (James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

The former Gonzaga point guard told the Spokesman-Review he has had "multiple" conversations with school administrators since the pandemic began regarding health and safety protocols.

“Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit,” Stockton said, via the Spokesman-Review. “And therefore they received complaints and felt like from whatever the higher-ups – those weren’t discussed, but from whatever it was higher up – they were going to have to either ask me to wear a mask or they were going to suspend my tickets.”

The university released a statement to the paper regarding health and safety protocols and the mask requirement.

“Gonzaga University continues to work hard to implement and enforce the health and safety protocols mandated by the State and by University policy, including reinforcing the indoor masking requirement. Attendees at basketball games are required to wear face masks at all times,” the statement read. “We will not speak to specific actions taken with any specific individuals. We take enforcement of COVID-19 health and safety protocols seriously and will continue to evaluate how we can best mitigate the risks posed by COVID-19 with appropriate measures. The recent decision to suspend concessions in McCarthey Athletic Center is an example of this approach.

“Gonzaga University places the highest priority on protecting the health and safety of students, employees and the community.”

Stockton, 59, said he believes the issue strains the relationship between him and the school, but that he doesn't think it will be permanently fractured. He seems open to at least considering wearing a mask, telling the Spokesman when asked, "Of course. You consider everything, every option when you’re presented with something like that, and I considered it in great detail.”

The Spokane, Washington, native starred at the school in the 1980s and was the first in school history to win conference player of the year. He was taken No. 16 overall in the 1984 NBA Draft and spent his entire 19-year career with the Utah Jazz.

The league's all-time assists and steals leader returned to live in Spokane full-time after retirement in 2003. He also owns a gym there were many Gonzaga athletes work out.

Stockton's COVID-19 views

Stockton was part of a documentary in June, "COVID and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed.”

In it he asserted that hundreds of athletes have died of vaccines and tens of thousands of people have died from them.

“I think it’s highly recorded now, there’s 150 I believe now, it’s over 100 professional athletes dead – professional athletes – the prime of their life, dropping dead that are vaccinated, right on the pitch, right on the field, right on the court,” Stockton said in the interview.

PolitiFact checked such an assertion that "hundred of thousands" died after taking the advice of celebrities regarding the vaccine and found it to be false. There is no evidence that the vaccine causes death.

"Yes, there are many people — thousands even — who have died within weeks or even days of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. That is because there are hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. and human beings are mortal," Benjamin Linas, professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine and associate professor of epidemiology at BU’s School of Public Health, told PolitiFact.

Per the Centers for Disease Control, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System has received reports of death in 0.0022% of all vaccine cases from Dec. 14, 2020 to Jan. 18, 2022.