The Stony Brook Seawolves are less than one month away from making their return after a lengthy halt caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Nov. 25, the men’s and women’s basketball teams will begin their season, marking the first official competition for a Stony Brook team since the NCAA halted all college sports in March.
Although it is not currently planned for spectators to be allowed inside of the Island Federal Arena, Stony Brook is offering fans the ability to represent themselves with cardboard cutouts of their likeness, at prices ranging from $50 to $100.
The men’s team is coming off a 20-13 season that ended with a loss to Hartford in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament. The women’s team finished 28-3 and was set to reach their first-ever NCAA Tournament before it was canceled.
In a virtual town hall on Oct. 8, Stony Brook Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron announced that the women’s basketball team will be home on Nov. 25 to take on the LIU Sharks at Island Federal Arena.
During the town hall, Heilbron also discussed the financial impact of COVID-19 on Stony Brook Athletics. With the cancelation of the NCAA Tournament, the athletic department lost roughly $700,000. There was also an additional $2 million dollar loss when Stony Brook University refunded a prorated portion of its athletic fees for undergraduate students. Heilbron estimated a total $5 million in revenue lost due to the pandemic.
“The trickle down comes from the state, to the school, to us,” he said.
In order to combat this issue, Heilbron launched the Believe in the Seawolves fundraising campaign, which as of Oct. 26, has raised $23,680 from 257 donors.
Stony Brook student-athletes were also at the forefront of the campus Black Lives Matter protest on Oct. 21, which the Stony Brook Black Student-Athlete Huddle had a role in organizing. Hundreds of student-athletes led the protest, continuing Heilbron’s stance of allowing his players to use their platforms for speaking out against racism following the killing of George Floyd.
During the America East’s Spread Respect Forum on Oct. 22, Heilbron called out those within the Stony Brook community who do not support the Black Lives Matter movement.
“There are absolutely donors that we have, there are coaches and staff, there are student-athletes we have who [are] not on board,” Heilbron said. “Quite frankly, that is an issue we have to address.”
Heilbron also vowed to keep fighting for racial justice at the risk of alienating supporters.
“If for some reason, I lose my job because I’m doing everything I can fighting for my student-athletes, my coaches and staff, my friends – then so be it … If that means we lose fans, we lose donors, we lose athletes, we lose coaches and staff – then so be it,” he promised.