Head coach Dawn Plitzuweit, left, and members of the South Dakota women's basketball game celebrate after winning the Summit League Women's Basketball Tournament championship last season at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Commissioner Tom Douple in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Sports Authority announced Thursday that the 2021 Men’s and Women’s Summit League Basketball Tournaments will be held without fans and the games will be moved to the Sanford Pentagon and 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. 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.

“This decision was not made lightly, knowing that fan attendance has been a key driving force in raising interest in the Summit League Basketball Championships. However, after a review of the current environment and the potential impact of bringing 16 teams and all their constituents into one site, it became a necessary decision.”

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.

“We here at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center are disappointed that we will not be hosting the great fans of the Summit League in 2021 but understand the position of the League. We look forward to resuming our hosting duties in 2022,” Mike Krewson, General Manager ASM Global/Denny Sanford PREMIER Center said.

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.”

All ticket holders will receive detailed information via email from the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center on Monday, Jan. 18 about their options going forward. As in years past, all 14 games will still be carried live across MidcoSN and ESPN linear and digital platforms.

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