Amid the World Health Organization’s designation of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as a global pandemic, the Ivy League announced Wednesday that it has decided to cancel all spring athletic events.
In an official press release, the League stated that university presidents unanimously voted to suspend all spring athletic competitions for the remainder of the year. According to the release, winter sports still alive in postseason action may be suspended at the discretion of each individual university. The announcement follows decisions to move classes online from several Ivy League institutions, including Yale, Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.
The decision to cancel all spring sports comes just a day after the Ivy League announced the cancellation of its annual Ivy Madness basketball tournament scheduled to begin on Friday at Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge. The Ancient Eight remains the only conference in the country to cancel its postseason.
“Obviously I understand that the Presidents and Athletic Directors want to keep everyone safe,” Andrew Jones ’23, a student-athlete on the Yale lightweight crew team, said. “With that being said, it’s hard to describe the amount of hurt that my team and I feel right now. I’m still amazed and in awe at how quickly this happened, and even though this was the outcome I was expecting, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. There are just so many emotions right now and none of us have any idea what to do in such an unprecedented situation.”
The Ivy League’s decision is especially impactful for seniors, as the Ancient Eight remains the only Division I league that does not permit medical redshirts or any other fifth-year students to complete their fourth year of NCAA eligibility. It remains unclear whether or not the Ivy League will grant an exception to this rule; there currently exists a fifth year waiver process, but it is not exercised often.
Just minutes after the Ivy League’s announcement, the Big Ten announced that its men’s basketball tournament will proceed as scheduled. However, the conference has since limited attendance to players, coaches and other essential personnel.
As for the fate of Yale’s winter sports teams, Associate Athletic Director Mike Gambardella was unable to comment. Harvard recently forfeited its ECAC tournament matchup against RPI, which was already planned to take place in an empty Houston Field House without any fans. Per a Crimson press release, Harvard won’t “participate in any team or individual NCAA or other postseason competition.” Harvard’s Associate Director of Athletics was unable to provide further comment.
Following Harvard’s decision to forfeit its men’s hockey ECAC tournament matchup against RPI — which was already planned to take place in an empty Houston Field House without any fans — Yale followed in the Crimson’s footsteps. Shortly thereafter, the ECAC cancelled the remainder of the tournament in its entirety. Associate Athletic Director Mike Gambardella was unable to comment.
The NBA recently announced an indefinite suspension of all games, becoming the first professional sports organization in the U.S. to do so. The NHL, MLS, and MLB all followed in suspending operations.
The Ivy League, NCAA and ECAC offices were not immediately available for comment.
This story was updated to include additional information about the uncertainty surrounding the status of Yale’s winter teams involved in postseason tournaments. The updated story also includes the NCAA policies surrounding March Madness, the ECAC’s recent decision, and the decisions of several professional leagues.
Last updated: March 12, 8:38 p.m.
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