Ivy League Halts Fall Sports; Decision on Winter Sports to Come

dean-farris-Ivy League
Dean Farris - Harvard University. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

The Ivy League officially decided on Wednesday to postpone its fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will not entertain any sports beginning play until after Jan. 1, 2021. The decision, which was expected, was reported by CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein, and confirmed by the conference in a release. The Ivy League’s fall sports include football, field hockey, soccer, cross country and volleyball, and whether their seasons will be played in the spring will be determined at a later date.

Reports also indicated that the Ivy League will make a decision in mid-July on the fate of winter sports, including men’s and women’s swimming. Those sports typically begin practice in the fall, but that scenario seems unlikely with the Ivy League putting a halt to fall athletics through the end of 2020 – at the earliest.

The Ivy League’s statement in full:

“With the safety and well-being of students as their highest priority, Ivy League institutions are implementing campus-wide policies including restrictions on student and staff travel, requirements for social distancing, limits on group gatherings, and regulations for visitors to campus. As athletics is expected to operate consistent with campus policies, it will not be possible for Ivy League teams to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition prior to the end of the fall semester.

“Practice and other athletic training opportunities for enrolled student-athletes will be permitted provided they are structured in accordance with each institution’s procedures and applicable state regulations. The Ivy League will also issue guidelines on a phased approach to conditioning and practice activities to allow for interaction among student-athletes and coaches that will begin with limited individual and small group workouts and build to small group practice sessions, if public health conditions permit.

“Fall sport student-athletes will not use a season of Ivy League or NCAA eligibility in the fall, whether or not they enroll. Students who wish to pursue competition during a fifth-year will need to work with their institutions in accordance with campus policy to determine their options beyond their current anticipated graduation date.

“Local campus policies for the student body regarding return to campus and in-person learning will apply to student-athletes.

“A decision on the remaining winter and spring sports competition calendar, and on whether fall sport competition would be feasible in the spring, will be determined at a later date.”

Pertaining to swimming, the biggest question mark following the Ivy League’s decision is how it will affect the conference’s top Olympic hopeful, Dean Farris of Harvard. Farris is a contender for Olympic berths in a handful of events and spent the last year training under Eddie Reese at the University of Texas. However, Farris intended to return to Harvard for his senior campaign. Harvard already announced on Monday that the school will only be bringing students back at 40% capacity this coming semester.

Another question is whether the Ivy League’s decision will influence other conferences within the NCAA. It is possible that other conferences will follow suit and put sports on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled and universities can offer safe environments for school and competition. Of course, other conferences are likely to act on their own and make decisions independent of what is unfolding around them.


    • Aaron Kassebaum

      Canceling swimming would be a huge mistake …look at overall gpa of swimmers across the country and a life sport as well