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Ivy League cancels all fall 2020 athletic competitions

Decisions on winter and spring sports will be made at a later date.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 16 Ivy League Conference Tournament - Penn v Harvard Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In yet another sports-related casualty of the coronavirus outbreak, The Ivy League announced it will not have athletic competitions during the fall 2020 semester, according to a statement released on July 8.

The statement, which can be read in full on the Ivy League’s website, said “it will not be possible for Ivy League teams to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition prior to the end of the fall semester” while also following social-distancing, limited group gatherings and other health and safety precautions. Decisions on the future of winter and spring sports seasons will be determined at a later date, according to the release.

For now, Ivy League athletic competitions — including sports like men’s and women’s basketball that begin in the fall semester and conclude in the spring — will resume at Jan. 1, 2021 at the earliest. All fall sport student-athletes will not be penalized a season of eligibility as well, whereas fifth-year seniors would “need to work with their institutions in accordance with campus policy to determine their options beyond their current anticipated graduation date.”

The Ivy League Council of Presidents also offered a joint statement in the press release:

“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 sports world has braced for this decision for quite some time. Sports Illustrated’s Mark Blaudschun first broke the news on Twitter, which was confirmed by CBS Sports’s Jon Rothstein and The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil shortly thereafter. O’Neil’s source also offered a glimmer of hope that fall sports could be moved to the spring, yet it’s worth noting that a delayed season, like everything nowadays, is subject to change.

The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach also reported that the possibility remains for schools within the conference to hold team activities, meetings, lifts and the like at their own discretion. Again, this could be subject to change in the following months.

Even though men’s basketball is considered a winter sport, the non-conference portion of the season will be canceled. With eight fewer opponents to schedule, college basketball teams will certainly have to scramble to either find replacement opponents, or cancel those games altogether. The most notable scheduling change will occur in the Myrtle Beach Invitational, which will need to find a replacement for the Penn Quakers in an eight-team field that includes Dayton, Loyola Chicago and Utah State, among others. This scheduling problem will be exacerbated if other conferences cancel fall sports as well.

The possibility remains that several conferences could follow suit in the wake of the Ivy League’s decision. There has been a precedent for following the conference’s lead: The Ivy League was the first conference to cancel its basketball tournaments on March 10, days before the rest of the sporting world suffered the same fate.