Following the lead of sports institutions across the nation, Yale announced yesterday that all varsity athletic events through Sunday have been cancelled because of Tuesday’s national tragedy.
The afternoon decision came after discussions between Yale President Richard Levin, athletic director Tom Beckett, senior administrators in various departments and Bulldog athletes and coaches.
Affected events include a field hockey game scheduled for yesterday, two men’s and one women’s soccer contests, a volleyball match, a men’s and women’s cross-country meet, a men’s golf tournament and the football team’s season-opening game against Towson (Md.) University.
The cancellation of the Saturday game at Towson — which was to be the centerpiece of an Eli football weekend celebration in Baltimore — marked the first time Yale has called off a football game since Hurricane Gloria washed out the Yale-Connecticut game in 1985.
In 129 years of Yale football, the only other cancelled games occurred when the United States entered World War I.
“It is certainly difficult and disappointing to not be able to compete this weekend,” Yale football captain Tim Penna ’02 said, “but I absolutely support the University’s decision. I feel that it’s important that we take pause for the victims of the tragic event and respect their memory and the scope of this loss.”
Yale is currently the only school in the Ivy League to cancel the entire weekend docket of games.
“I support President Levin’s decision, and I am proud to be part of an institution that made its own decision,” head football coach Jack Siedlecki said. “We made the right decision for Yale and I am sure that other institutions made what they feel are the right decisions for them.”
At Ivy League staff headquarters in Princeton, N.J., assistant director Brett Hoover said that Ivy League athletic directors held a regularly scheduled conference call and that the league was not planning to reach a collective agreement yesterday.
Hoover said that the Ivy League — which is in Division I-AA for football — would be paying attention to the actions of other athletic institutions and to possible requests by President Bush for a national day of mourning.
Schools around the league are taking a variety of approaches toward deciding whether to go on with weekend competition.
Around the same time Yale announced that it would cancel all games, Dartmouth announced that it intended to play all scheduled games throughout the week and weekend.
However, Dartmouth athletic director Dick Jaeger called the announcement somewhat tentative and stressed that Dartmouth would wait for possible guidelines from higher authorities.
Columbia cancelled field hockey and soccer games yesterday, but the athletic department said it plans to play weekend contests as scheduled.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association issued a statement saying that it would leave the decision to cancel games to conference and individual school authorities.
“Decisions about playing regular-season games always have rested with our members,” said Cedric Dempsey, the NCAA’s president. “We support the decisions our member schools and conferences make about playing their games in the next few days.”
A committee of 10 Division I-A conference commissions agreed to let member conferences make their own decisions.
The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Mid-American, Conference USA, Mountain West and WAC decided to play their conference games and non-conference home games, with a few exceptions. The Big East, Pac-10 and ACC postponed all league games.
Yale moved quickly to reschedule Wednesday’s field hockey game against the University of Rhode Island for Sunday, Sept. 30 and Saturday’s field hockey game at Princeton to Oct. 30.
Sunday’s junior varsity football game was moved to Sept. 23.
According to an athletic department release, it has not been determined which other, if any, games will be rescheduled other than football at Towson, which will not be played this season.
Meanwhile, coaches and players are trying to regroup and prepare to get back to their usual schedules.
“People react differently to things like this,” said field hockey forward Suzanne Anthony ’03. “I think it was good to take a couple of days to recover. We’ll be back at practice tomorrow and back into our routine.”
Anthony said that she wasn’t worried about the postponements breaking the rhythm of the team, which has been playing games for about two weeks.
For teams just opening their season like football, starting out in a conference game against a league opponent that has already played may be a more daunting task.
“I cannot control what Cornell does, I can only prepare our team the best we can,” Siedlecki said. “We will be ready to play Cornell next Saturday at home in our Ivy opener.”