The University of Portland is exploring out-of-state options that would allow its men’s and women’s basketball programs the ability to hold practices and host games, The Oregonian/OregonLive has learned.
I can’t say I’m surprised.
Also, not shocked that the State of Oregon won’t recognize the role it played in sweeping a couple of Division 1 college basketball programs across state lines.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown refused to grant UP the same exception that she gave to both Oregon and Oregon State last month. The Pilots submitted protocols and procedures that mirrored those of the Pac-12 universities, but were denied twice. The governor’s office said it simply isn’t issuing any new exemptions and asked the programs to try again in six to 12 weeks.
Basically, the governor would like UP’s athletes to go away. And it turns out, they are listening to her.
Again, you can ice skate and go bowling in Oregon today. You can go to a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. The governor issued exemptions to allow all of that. The Ducks and Beavers basketball programs can also hold full basketball practices today, too. But if UP — and Portland State — want to practice, even with stringent protocols and testing, they will have to drive into a neighboring state.
In fact, they’re apparently warming up the cars at UP.
Pilots athletic director Scott Leykam declined comment on Monday when I asked him if UP was planning to relocate the basketball programs for practices and games. Multiple sources, however, confirmed that the Pilots are exploring locations in Washington, Nevada and Idaho.
An employee at the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver confirmed that someone acting on behalf of UP called on Friday and inquired about the ceiling height of the hotel’s ballroom. Also, if it would be OK with taking delivery of a hardwood basketball court.
Not a prank.
Just where we are today.
Sort of pathetic, isn’t it?
Turns out the ceiling height isn’t quite enough for basketball. But this is next-level absurdity, even for 2020. The right move is for Gov. Brown to announce that exemptions will not be selectively handed out and reserved only for her favorite programs.
If the aim of our state government is to keep students safe and limit the spread of the virus, chasing people across state lines doesn’t feel like the right tactic. Consistent and clear guidelines would be a good start. Daily testing, too. If UP can exactly copy the protocols approved at Oregon and OSU, doesn’t it work for everyone?
It’s beyond frustrating.
Leykam Tweeted last week in support of his athletes, asking Gov. Brown to treat UP’s athletes equally.
“They have prepared a lifetime for this moment,” Leykam’s tweet read. “We are willing to meet any and all protocols the state requests. Let us play.”
I keep thinking about the Pilots’ women’s basketball team. They were one of the great stories of March, winning the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas and earning the conference’s automatic berth to the