The Ivy League has canceled athletics competition in winter sports for the 2020-21 season and will not make up postponed fall sports in the spring as well, becoming the first Division I conference to scrap winter play due to the pandemic.
The unanimous decision from the Ivy League Council of Presidents is still planning on spring sports. From the statement issued by the conference:
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 decision cancels play for men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, squash and fencing. It means the conference will forego one of the 32 automatic invitations to March Madness. It also spills into other conferences: hockey teams from Ivy League schools play in the ECAC, and those programs are shut down as well.
There is also a strong sense of deja vu here: the Ivy League was the first Division I conference to cancel play last March, a move soon joined by other conferences that eventually led to the cancelation of March Madness. Whether other major conferences join this move remains to be seen: the NCAA basketball season is set to launch on Nov. 25. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding that opening day, and there are indications that the major conferences will end up overhauling schedules in order to cut down on travel and end up with more restrictions on fans attending events.