Gonzaga Suspends NBA HOF Alum John Stockton's Season Tickets Over Mask Defiance

John Stockton, one of the NBA's greatest point guards and passers of all time and former Gonzaga Bulldog, is at odds with his alma matter over the school’s mask mandate.

The Spokesman-Review reports the disagreement over Gonzaga's COVID protocols led the school to suspend Stockton’s season tickets at home basketball games.

“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 told the outlet. “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.”

Stockton said Gonzaga Athletic Director Chris Standiford made him aware of the university's decision, but the former Gonzaga and Utah Jazz point guard said he’s had “multiple” conversations with the school’s administration over the past two years before a recent decision was made to ban him from games, Spokesman reports.

While Standiford declined to comment for Spokesman's story, he provided a university statement reinforcing the mask policy:

“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.”

Spokesman reports Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh declined to comment as well and referred the outlet to the university statement. In a Jan. 11 announcement, McCulloh reminded the campus community masks were required for all in indoor settings.

"... it is imperative that we commit to wearing face coverings while in indoor, congregate settings," he said. "Masks are required in all classrooms, labs, and common areas such as offices, study lounges, hallways, library spaces, and places where others are present (with obvious exceptions, such as dining and certain fitness center activities). Students, ticket-holders and all those attending basketball games at McCarthey Center and sporting events indoors are required to wear masks at all times."

The Spokesman-Review reports that Stockton has taken a strong stance against COVID-19 vaccines, shutdown measures and mask mandates, initially offering his views last June in a documentary titled, “COVID and the Vaccine: Truth, Lies and Misconceptions Revealed.”

While Stockton also made claims during the interview, like asserting that more than 100 professional athletes have died of vaccination and possibly tens of thousands of people – perhaps millions – have died from vaccines, these claims are not credible or backed by medical professionals.

Stockton told the newspaper the decision stresses his relationship with the school, but it's not beyond repair.

“I think certainly it stresses (the relationship with Gonzaga). I’m pretty connected to the school,” Stockton said. “I’ve been part of this campus since I was probably 5 or 6 years old. I was just born a couple blocks away and sneaking into the gym and selling programs to get into games since I was a small boy. So, it’s strained but not broken, and I’m sure we’ll get through it, but it’s not without some conflict.”

Spokesman reports the university requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours to attend home athletic events.

While many individuals have expressed frustration and exhaustion with the everchanging recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, the most recent published guidance can be found here.