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The Penn men's basketball team before the national anthem on Jan. 31, 2020.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Citing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ivy League has canceled the full winter sports season, league sources confirmed to CBS Sports Thursday evening and the conference announced shortly after.

In addition, the league announced that fall sports will not have a spring season, as some have argued for, and that spring teams will not be allowed to compete until at least the end of February 2021.

Penn's affected winter teams include men's and women's basketball, whose postseasons were cut short last March with the cancellation of Ivy Madness just three days before it was set to start.

Just as in July, when it was the first to announce the cancellation of fall sports and winter sports until Jan. 1, the Ivy League is also the first NCAA Division I conference to make such an announcement for the entire winter sports season.

“The Ivy League Presidents made an incredibly difficult decision to not conduct intercollegiate competition for fall and winter sports in the spring 2021 semester,” Penn Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun wrote in a statement. “This decision was not taken lightly and came after careful consideration and analysis of the current trends of the COVID-19 virus and ongoing campus restrictions. While we are disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni and fans, the health and safety of our communities must be the highest priority.”

The fate of the Ivy League's winter season has always been in jeopardy, given the nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases, and this decision comes less than two weeks before the scheduled start of the Division I basketball season, which tips off on Nov. 25.

All eight Ivy League presidents came to the decision in the past few days, but significant time has gone into preparing staff to break the news to the hundreds of winter athletes at each of the schools.

The cancellation marks the third sports season affected by the pandemic, and now each sport has lost a year of competition. The NCAA has already announced it would grant an extra year of eligibility to spring and fall athletes who have lost seasons, but since Ivy League rules do not allow graduate students to compete, athletes will have to either continue their undergraduate education during that time or be forced to transfer if they choose to take their extra year.

A number of Penn's spring athletes have made such a change, such as baseball ace Christian Scafidi and thrower Maura Kimmel (both to Notre Dame) and pole vaulter Sean Clarke (to Texas A&M), among others.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information is released.

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