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Ivy League becomes first Division 1 conference to cancel winter sports season

Tommy Amaker and his Harvard men's basketball team will be sidelined this year.Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The Ivy League has canceled all winter sports for the upcoming season.

The decision means all eight schools — Harvard, Yale, Brown, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Penn — will not compete at the NCAA level in a variety of sports, including basketball and hockey.

In addition, the Ivy League will not conduct competition for fall sports during the upcoming spring semester. And spring sports competition will be postponed through at least the end of February 2021.

The Ivy League Council of Presidents issued a statement Thursday:

"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 well being 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.

"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.

“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.”

There also was some clarification regarding eligibility:

“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, if permitted, or as a graduate student elsewhere will need to work with their institutions in accordance with campus policy to determine their options beyond their current anticipated graduation date.”


The Ivy League is the second college conference in as many months to make this call; in October, the New England Small Collegiate Athletic Conference announced it would cancel its winter sports season.

The Ivy League was the first college basketball conference to cancel its tournament last March when COVID-19 became a major issue, and that led the way for other conferences to do the same.

This winter will mark the second consecutive season for no Ivy League sports. It pulled the plug on the fall season in July; at that time, there was talk that a winter season could begin after Jan. 1, but that will not come to fruition.

Many Ivy programs have been in limbo the last few months, which has taken a toll on players and coaches. Men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker, who has seen players transfer because of the uncertainty, talked earlier this week about the dicey situation.

“We don’t know,” Amaker said Tuesday. "There has been no direction as of yet. We’ve had very limited kids even on campus. All of the classes at Harvard have been virtual. We’ve only actually had three basketball players actually on campus the first semester.

“The thing we’ve tried to do with our team is we’ve met with them virtually through Zoom. We’re just trying to be grateful and staying positive, but also trying to stay healthy. And trying to find small wins, wherever they may be.”


Christopher Price can be reached at Follow him @cpriceglobe.