SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Sanford Pentagon will host the 2021 Summit League basketball tournaments, Summit League commissioner Tom Douple in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Sports Authority announced Thursday. The men’s and women’s tournaments will be held without fans and the games will be played during the originally scheduled dates of March 6-9.
“As the Summit League’s Commissioner, I never imagined that the League would be making an announcement like this one,” said Douple. “It is with deep disappointment, yet an equally deep amount of conviction that we came to this conclusion because the health, safety and welfare of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and the Sioux Falls community remain our highest priorities.”
The move from the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center to the smaller, basketball-centric Sanford Pentagon was made to ensure all tournament operations, including practices, could be performed under one roof. The Pentagon has already hosted several successful collegiate basketball tournaments during these challenging times.
“This past fall, the Pentagon hosted 22 Division I games in less than one month, providing us the blueprint and knowledge for not only keeping the student-athletes and staff safe, but also giving them a memorable experience,” said Jesse Smith, vice president of operations at the Sanford Pentagon. “During a basketball season where everyone has been forced to pivot, we are fortunate to have the capabilities to help the Summit League and its members with these tournaments.”
This will be the 13th-consecutive year the Summit League Basketball Tournaments will be held in Sioux Falls. The first six of those were at the Sioux Falls Arena and the last six were held at the PREMIER Center where the games will return next season.
“The pandemic has made all of us pivot and make difficult decisions. This is yet another one and it was especially hard because of what this event means to this community and the unparalleled success the tournaments have had in previous years at the PREMIER Center,” Thomas Lee, executive director of the SFSA, said. “I know both the Sioux Falls Sports Authority and The Summit League look forward to bringing the games back there in 2022.”
The League and its membership also want to recognize the effort put forth by our sports medicine staffs in terms of the testing protocols and safety measures being utilized to make the regular season possible. These processes will have to continue into postseason play to create safe competition environments for the Summit League and NCAA Championships.
“In a multi-team event like our championships, one positive test along with contact tracing requirements has the potential to eliminate several teams from moving forward and mitigating those risks was paramount in the decision-making process,” Douple added. “Our medical consultants and Presidents Council concluded that every step possible should be taken to help mitigate exposure to the virus for everyone involved. Unfortunately, these measures included some tough decisions. And, while we cannot eliminate all concerns, it is imperative to take every precaution to temper and reduce these risks as much as possible.”
Any ticket purchased for the 2021 Basketball Tournament will be refunded and all 14 games will be carried live across MidcoSN and ESPN platforms.