The Ivy League became the first Division I conference yesterday to announce that it would not be engaging in sports this Fall, ruling out all sports for the time being, which includes, naturally, all of their football programs. Many believe that it won’t be the only conference to take a similar approach while the Covid-19 pandemic continues to surge, with outbreaks on a number of college campuses already as team preparations began last month.
It should be noted that the current decision applies only to the sports programs intended to play this Fall. No decision has yet been reached about Winter or Spring sports, nor whether or not Fall sports will be postponed until the Spring.
Robin Harris, the executive director of the Ivy League conference, told ESPN that “campus policies make it impractical for competition to occur, at least through the end of the fall semester. That’s why today we’re announcing. Eight campuses have announced their policies for the fall over the past two weeks. When we realized and the presidents realized based on these campus policies that we couldn’t have competition, we wanted to make sure the student-athletes were aware of the outcome”.
Harris specified that the decision was based on the Covid-19 policy restrictions that were posted by eight of the schools within the conference, through which they determined that it would be unfeasible to hold competitions under those conditions.
“Schools have to evaluate what’s right for them”, she went on. “For us, it came down to campus policies. Our athletic directors have been working very hard modeling different options, looking at different ways we can conduct athletics in the fall, and ultimately, as more and more campuses developed their policies that didn’t allow for competition, that led to our decision. That may not be the same at other schools in other conferences”.
While the Ivy League is not necessarily a prime pipeline for producing major league athletic talent, it is significant for such a conference to announce the closure of Fall sports activities. We will have to monitor other conferences and schools from here on out to see the approaches that they take.
It’s likely that there will be others who take a similar course of action. In fact, recently, members of the NCAA reportedly inquired with the NFL about whether or not they were open to pushing back the 2021 NFL Draft in order to accommodate any potential delays in the 2020 college football season in the event that postponements until the Spring occur.
According to ESPN, athletic directors around the country have been monitoring the Ivy League to see what decision they would ultimately reach, which indicates that their decision will influence the course of action that others take.