Ivy League becomes the first Division I conference to cancel all fall sports. Could the others follow in their footsteps?

The Ivy League Council of Presidents broke the silence as they became the first Division I conference to suspend all fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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 risk,” said the presidents’ public statement. “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.”

Although sports practice could still occur in the fall, these practices must be limited to individual and small group workouts. As a result of this heartbreaking decision, many sports—including football, men's basketball, cross country, and sailing—have all been canceled. 

"As you can imagine, this has been a heartbreaking day for all of us, especially with those student-athletes and coaches involved," said Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir. 

The Ivy League Council of Presidents made the tough decision based on the COVID-19 policies of their eight campuses. These policies were developed over the past two weeks and will last at least until the end of the fall semester. Many of the Ivy League schools placed restrictions on travel and visitors, created stringent social distance policies, and limited the size of group gatherings, which ultimately did not seem feasible for sports and sporting events.

“For us, this was really about policies and not finances,” said executive director Robin Harris. “We're impacted financially by this decision, there's no question, but at the end of the day it's about health and safety and consistency with campus policies. Financially, this is definitely going to be a hit for our schools and our office, but it didn't factor into this decision. It really hasn't been part of the equation.”

The Ivy League is not the only one that will take the hit. Although the eight Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships or compete in NCAA football championships, their decision will be one heard around the world.

Back in March, Ivy League presidents made the tough decision to cancel men’s and women’s basketball tournaments because of coronavirus. Just 48 hours later, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus and the NBA suspended its season, followed by all NCAA sports. The Ivy League seems to be at the forefront of the decision-making and this could definitely cause others to follow suit.

Columbia athletic director Peter Pilling said, “I think other conferences around the country are going to follow.”

Hours after the Ivy League suspended fall sports, Ohio State University also stated it was suspending workouts in seven sports, including football and men’s and women’s basketball based on the results of recent coronavirus tests. The University of North Carolina also suspended voluntary football workouts for a week.

No decision has been made yet as of the status of winter or spring sports. Regarding the possibility of the future of playing football, Princeton football Coach Bob Surace said, “One word. Hope.” According to him, a vaccine and more people following health guidelines are absolutely necessary if they expect to see any chance of playing in the spring.

So, what do you think? How do you feel about the Ivy League’s decision and do you think others will follow their lead? Let us know in the comments!