John Stockton’s Refusal to Mask Led His Alma Mater to Suspend His Season Tickets

Gonzaga University has an indoor mask mandate

John Stockton
John Stockton of the Utah Jazz is defended by Andre Turner of the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1991 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Let’s say you’re a university with an alumnus considered to be one of the greatest athletes at their chosen position of all time. Let’s also say that alumnus has season tickets for basketball games. A question, then: what would that alumnus have to do to get their season tickets suspended? In the case of Gonzaga University and John Stockton, that question is – unfortunately – far from rhetorical.

It turns out that Gonzaga has a mask mandate for all indoor spaces. Turns out Stockton — one of the only basketball players to have his number retired by the university — isn’t a fan of that. And so, as reported by the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the university’s administration had what sounds like a very awkward conversation with Stockton, in which they told him that he had to wear a mask or face the suspension of his season tickets. Stockton chose the latter option.

In an extensive interview with the newspaper, he inveighed against both vaccines and mask mandates, and repeated the false claim that the vaccine had killed dozens of athletes. (Spoiler: it has not.) When asked to describe his relationship with the university, Stockton said, “So, it’s strained but not broken, and I’m sure we’ll get through it, but it’s not without some conflict.”

It does seem like there’s a perfectly easy way for Stockton to repair that relationship. But right now, it seems like the onus is on him to take the first step.

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