Autumn on the Harvard University campus.

Autumn on the Harvard University campus. Credit: Getty Images/DenisTangneyJr

The Ivy League will play no intercollegiate sports in the 2020-21 winter season.

The announcement came on Thursday evening against the backdrop of record-setting COVID-19 infection rates in nearly every region of the country. It added that no fall sports – all which were canceled – will be conducted in the spring and that the start of the spring intercollegiate athletics season will be postponed at least through the end of February.

The Ivy League has been a bellwether in college sports’ efforts to go on during the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first conference to cancel its postseason men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments back in March and, soon after, every other conference followed suit and the NCAA canceled its tournament. And it decided not to play a fall football season in July and the vast majority of football-playing conferences took that tack as well.

Only Football Bowl Subdivision conferences with sizeable television contracts are playing in this fall season, as well as a handful of Football Championship Subdivision conferences. Members of the Power Five – the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC – are so far still on track to complete their seasons and compete in the College Football Playoff, but there have been postponements and cancellations throughout. This week alone, No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 12 Georgia have had their games postponed or canceled.

Most FCS conferences plan to play a schedule that begins in February or March.

The vote by the Ivy League Council of Presidents was unanimous.

"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 wellbeing of our students, faculty members, staff and the communities in which they live and work," it said in a statement. "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," the statement continued. "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."

The Ivy League already had greatly modified its men’s and women’s basketball schedules. Permitted by the NCAA to play up to 27 total games and required to play at least 13 to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, the eight-team conference already had decided to play only its 14 regular-season conference games.

Top Stories