The ongoing coronavirus pandemic prompted Ivy League schools to cancel all of their upcoming fall sports seasons on Wednesday, suggesting that other major intercollegiate bodies could follow suit.
Student-athletes who normally play football, field hockey, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball will not take the field or court for their schools this autumn, the league announced.
Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell Universities, plus the University of Pennsylvania, were all supposed to kick off their football slates with non-conference games on Sept. 19 — but officials said they couldn’t risk the safety of players, coaches, staff and fans as the deadly virus still plagues America.
“Ivy League institutions are implementing campus-wide policies including restrictions on student and staff travel, requirements for social distancing, limits on group gatherings, and regulations for visitors to campus,” the group said in a statement.
“As athletics is expected to operate consistent with campus policies, it will not be possible for Ivy League teams to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition prior to the end of the fall semester.”
A decision on when to reschedule the sports — including “whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring” — will come at a later date, the statement said.
Wednesday’s action comes after Harvard announced earlier this week it’d only be bringing a fraction of their students back to campus this fall with all learning online.
The Ivy League, back on March 10 as the pandemic first took hold of North America, was the first conference to cancel its post-season basketball tournaments. That triggered a wave of other leagues to stop their own hoops competitions.
And within 48 hours, the NCAA pulled the plug on its wildly popular postseason tournament, known as March Madness.
While Ivy League football competes in the NCAA’s second tier, the Football Championship Subdivision, it still represents a major symbolic role in the 151-year-old sport.
College football has long marked its birth as Nov. 6, 1869 when teams from Rutgers and Princeton faced off in a soccer-style game in New Brunswick, New Jersey.