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Ivy League Cancels Winter Sports Due To COVID-19 Resurgence

Ross Everett
by in NCAAB on
  • The Ivy League has cancelled all winter sports for the 2020-2021 season due to the COVID-19 resurgence.
  • The previous plan to play fall sports during spring semester has been scrapped.
  • In addition, spring sports won’t begin until at least the end of February 2021.

In a week where the SEC has struggled with the cancellation of multiple games due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is the Ivy League that has made the most decisive move. The Ivy League has announced that all winter sports for the 2020-2021 season have been cancelled. In addition, the plan to play fall sports during spring semester has been scrapped and the start of spring sports pushed back to at least the end of February 2021.

The decision was made by the Ivy League Council of Presidents who offered this joint statement:

Throughout the last nine months, we have asked our campus communities to make extraordinary adjustments in order to do our part in combating the global pandemic and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty members, staff and the communities in which they live and work.

Regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to intercollegiate athletics competition in a safe manner.

Student-athletes, their families and coaches are again being asked to make enormous sacrifices for the good of public health — and we do not make this decision lightly. While these decisions come with great disappointment and frustration, our commitment to the safety and lasting health of our student-athletes and wider communities must remain our highest priority.

We look forward to the day when intercollegiate athletics — which are such an important part of the fabric of our campus communities — will safely return in a manner and format we all know and appreciate. 

The Ivy League did provide this ‘out’ just in case the COVID-19 situation changes dramatically for the better:

The Council will continue to closely monitor and evaluate the public health climate and consider changes to policies when warranted in order to return to more normal campus operations, including potential spring intercollegiate athletics competition.

Director of Harvard Athletics Erin McDermott had this comment to The Harvard Crimson after informing athletes of the decision via video conference:

“The presidents know this decision is very disappointing and share that disappointment, but the health and safety of student athletes, coaches, and the greater community has to be the highest priority. Intercollegiate athletics is part of a wider campus community and must operate within the same campus policies and framework.”

McDermott urged athletes to find perspective and view the situation mindfully–something you definitely wouldn’t hear at an SEC school:

“We need to find perspective and be mindful of the depths of loss many have suffered in this pandemic. Know that we are here for you and we will do our best to support all of you as you make important decisions and get through this difficult time.”

The Ivy League was the first conference to make a move in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic back in March. It was the first to cancel conference basketball tournaments and the first to cancel/postpone fall sports. They’re now the first league to cancel winter sports which include basketball, hockey, swimming and fencing.

It remains to be seen if other conferences follow suit. Even though the Ivy League has some very competitive teams in some sports including basketball and hockey they’re obviously playing a very different game (no pun intended) than power conferences like the SEC and Big Ten. It would be very surprising if there weren’t some significant modifications to winter sports schedules though I have to think that there will be some form of college basketball season. The money on the table for the NCAA and its member institutions is just too great.

The Ivy League website reminds us of where intercollegiate athletics rank in the ‘big picture’ for them:

Not something you’re going to see at the many US colleges with negligible academic standards.

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