Ivy League cancels fall sports, including football, over COVID-19 concerns

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BOSTON, MA – NOVEMBER 17: Henry Taylor #28 of the Harvard Crimson scores a touchdown while being tackled by Noah Pope #30 of the Yale Bulldogs in the second quarter of a game at Fenway Park on November 17, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

(WJW) — The Ivy League announced Wednesday there will be no sports competition this upcoming fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Campus policies including restrictions on student and staff travel, requirements for social distancing, limits on group gatherings and regulations for visitors to campus make sports impractical, executive director Robin Harris told ESPN.

University athletics are expected to operate within those campus policies; officials say the safety and well-being of students is their highest priority.

Practices and other athletic training opportunities will be permitted to continue provided they are structured in accordance with each institution’s procedures and applicable state regulations.

The Ivy League Council of Presidents offered the following joint statement on the decision: 

“As a leadership group, we have a responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students who attend our institutions, as well as the faculty and staff who work at our schools.These decisions are extremely difficult, particularly when they impact meaningful student-athlete experiences that so many value and cherish.

With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk, consistent with the policies that each of our schools is adopting as part of its reopening plans this fall.  

We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility — and that is the basis for this difficult decision.”

The league says they will also be issuing guidelines on a phased approach to conditioning and practice activities to allow for interaction among student-athletes and coaches.

League officials also state that fall sport student-athletes will not lose a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility in the fall, whether or not they enroll. Students interested in pursuing competition during a fifth year will need to work with their institutions to determine options.

The Ivy League has also not made any decisions yet on whether they will move the football season to spring 2021.

Meanwhile, the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee says college football’s power brokers may still play a fall 2020 season.

“We all pay attention to it, just to see what’s out there, but I think their model is a little different than our model when it comes to football,” Shane Lyons, committee chair and West Virginia athletic director, told ESPN when asked about the Ivy League’s decision. “Is it definitely going to impact what we do? As a whole, not necessarily. We have to look at what we’re doing with testing and protocols and the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, making sure we’re doing the right thing from that aspect of it, to see if we can fill any type of season.”

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