Ivy League becomes first conference to cancel winter sports amid COVID-19 spike

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read

The Ivy League was the first domino to fall in March when it abruptly canceled its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, the conference is leading the way a second time.

The Ivy League opted to cancel all winter sports for the 2020-21 season, it announced on Thursday night. University presidents voted unanimously on the decision, and informed teams of the news on Thursday.

Impacted athletes will not lose a year of eligibility.

“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,” the eight university presidents said in a joint statement. “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.”

Ivy League first to cancel winter sports

The Ivy League was the first conference to cancel sports in March, something that every other conference and nearly every sports league around the world eventually did, too. They eventually opted to cancel all sports through the end of the calendar year.

The college sports world has slowly resumed playing this fall, though it hasn’t been without issue. Week 11 of the college football season now has 11 games that have been postponed or canceled due to coronavirus outbreaks, including four SEC games — something that has become commonplace in the sport.

The NCAA approved both men’s and women’s basketball seasons to start later this month, though teams across the country will undoubtedly have scheduling issues come up, too. Ohio State, for example, already withdrew from the Crossover Classic — an early-season tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota — due to a massive spike in cases in the state and a 14-day quarantine the team would need to do upon returning to Ohio.

So, it appears the Ivy League isn’t going to take any chances.

"I'm disappointed, but I understand,” Yale men’s basketball coach James Jones said, via David Borges of the New Haven Register. “I have the same feeling I had last year when the NCAA tournament was cancelled. You're disappointed as all get-out ... but if you take a look at the map of the coronavirus, it's staggering."

The coronavirus is now as bad as it has ever been in the United States. There have been more than 10.4 million confirmed cases as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 241,000 deaths attributed to it. The country set an all-time record with 142,755 new cases on Wednesday alone, and is averaging an all-time high 128,000 new cases a day over the past week.

The Ivy League logo
The Ivy League canceled all winter sports, including men's and women's basketball, on Thursday as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps raging throughout the country. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

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