As a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the UCSB baseball team’s three-game series against UNLV this weekend will be played in an empty Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. (Noozhawk file photo)

As a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the UCSB Athletic Department made the decision to hold on-campus sporting events without fans in attendance this weekend and in the foreseeable future, John McCutcheon, Director of Athletics, announced Tuesday.

The Gauchos are scheduled to host UNLV for a three-game series in baseball Friday through Sunday at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, while the men’s volleyball team takes on Long Beach State in a Big West match Friday at Rob Gym.

“After much thought and discussion, with the safety of our student-athletes, staff and fans in mind, all UCSB-sponsored athletic events are scheduled to continue, however, events will now be held without fans, meaning there should be no fans in attendance,” McCutcheon said in a statement. “Home events will be staffed with essential personnel only.”

UCSB’s Thunderdome is scheduled to be the site for the 45th annual Dos Pueblos Invitational High School Boys Volleyball Tournament on Saturday. The all-day event draws 35-40 high school teams from all over the state.

As of Tuesday, the tournament was still on at the Thunderdome, but Dos Pueblos Athletic Director Dan Feldhaus said a contingency plan is in place if there is a change and it can’t be held at UCSB.

“The gyms at the three high schools (Santa Barbara, Dos Pueblos and San Marcos) are all available,” Feldhaus said of the plan.

Feldhaus said he and UCSB officials will be meeting Wednesday to talk about the status of the tournament venue.

Meanwhile, the UCSB men’s and women’s basketball teams will experience the same situation at the Big West Tournament this week in Anaheim — no fans in the arena.

The conference announced Tuesday that the men’s and women’s tournaments will be played without spectators as a precaution for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The tournament begins with women’s early round games tonight and Wednesday at the Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State University.   

The men’s quarterfinal games will be played Thursday at the Honda Center in Anaheim followed by the men’s and women’s semifinals on Friday.  Both championship games will be played at Honda Center on Saturday, March 14. 

The UCSB men open play on Thursday at the Honda Center and the women play their first game on Friday at the same venue.

“The Big West Board of Directors, comprised of the chief executive officers of the nine member universities, strongly feel that this is a prudent way to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus while being sensitive to our student-athletes who have pointed towards playing in the tournament all season,” said Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell. “Many of our institutions are developing plans to minimize the interaction of individuals on their campuses that could include the downsizing of events.

“I want to thank the management teams of the Walter Pyramid and Honda Center for their understanding and assistance as the Big West worked through this extremely difficult decision.” 

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience this will cause our fans, but I do want to stress that all games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks,” said Farrell.   

Those who have purchased tickets for the event may receive a full refund from their respective points of purchase.

Members of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference are Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, CSUN, Long Beach State, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, and Hawai’i.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.