Ivy League cancels winter sports season

Consistent with its commitment to safeguard the health and wellbeing of student-athletes, the greater campus community, and general public, the Ivy League Council of Presidents has decided that league schools will not conduct intercollegiate athletics competition in winter sports during the 2020-21 season. In addition, the Ivy League will not conduct competition for fall sports during the upcoming spring semester. Lastly, intercollegiate athletics competition for spring sports is postponed through at least the end of February 2021.

The unanimous decisions by the Ivy League Council of Presidents follow extended consideration of options and strategies to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, an analysis of current increasing rates of COVID-19—locally, regionally, and nationally—and the resulting need to continue the campus policies related to travel, group size, and visitors to campus that safeguard the campus and community.
Athletics training opportunities and practices for enrolled student-athletes will be permitted, provided they are structured in accordance with each institution’s procedures and applicable state and local regulations. This approach is consistent with the phased approach implemented by the Ivy League for all sports in the fall 2020 term.
The Council will continue to closely monitor and evaluate the public health climate and consider changes to policies when warranted in order to return to more normal campus operations, including potential spring intercollegiate athletics competition.

Winter and fall sport student-athletes will not lose a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility, whether or not they enroll. Students who wish to pursue competition during a fifth year of undergraduate education at their home institution, if permitted, or as a graduate student elsewhere will need to work with their institutions in accordance with campus policy to determine their options beyond their current anticipated graduation date.

In a joint statement from the Ivy League Council of Presidents—which includes Penn President Amy Gutmann and presidents of the seven other Ivy League schools—they acknowledge the work campus communities have done to make extraordinary adjustments to combat the global pandemic and safeguard the health and wellbeing of students, faculty members, staff, and the communities in which they live and work.

They say, “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.”

M. Grace Calhoun, the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W’69 Director of Athletics and Recreation says the Ivy League Presidents’ difficult decision came after careful consideration and analysis of the current trends of the COVID-19 virus and ongoing campus restrictions.

“While we are disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni, and fans, the health and safety of our communities must be the highest priority.

“I am especially heartbroken for our fall and winter student-athletes who will not be able to compete this academic year. We remain hopeful that it will be safe to conduct a competitive season for our spring sports as our nation makes strides to control the virus in the coming months. The Ivy phased approach to athletics activity will continue for the spring semester and we will monitor the status of the virus and allow for as much activity as is safe and responsible to do so.

“The past eight months have been hard on all of us, but especially hard on our coaches and student-athletes,” Calhoun adds. “We remain disappointed for them but know that the resilience that they continue to show will carry us through to brighter days in the future.”

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