Ivy League cancels winter sports season and delays spring play

The Ivy League has canceled winter sports for the 2020-21 season and has postponed spring sports until at least the end of February because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A plan to conduct competitions for fall sports during the spring semester has also been scrapped.

On Thursday, the Ivy League became the first league to cancel winter sports, which include men’s and women’s basketball, swimming, wrestling, fencing, and indoor track and field. The decision was made by the Ivy League Council of Presidents after considering strategies to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and an analysis of the increasing rates of COVID-19 across the country. The council plans to continue to closely monitor the situation and consider changes to policies when warranted in order to return to more normal campus operations, including potential spring intercollegiate athletics competition, officials said.

“Throughout the last nine months, we have asked our campus communities to make extraordinary adjustments in order to do our part in combating the global pandemic and to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty members, staff, and the communities in which they live and work. 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,” said the Ivy League presidents in a joint statement.
“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,” said the presidents in their statement. “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 Ivy League was the first conference to cancel its men’s and women’s conference tournaments in March and was the first conference to announce it wouldn’t hold fall sports.

Athletics training opportunities and practices for enrolled student-athletes still will be permitted in the Ivy League, provided they are structured in accordance with each institution’s procedures and state and local regulations, officials said.

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 or as graduate students elsewhere will need to work with their institutions in accordance with campus policy to determine their options beyond their current anticipated graduation date, officials said.