When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, the sports world went into disarray. The Ivy League was among the first to act, and while their move to cancel sports was at first widely criticized, almost every other sports body eventually followed suit. When all of this began, few would have guessed that we would be where we are now, with Ivy League athletics still halted and no date to resume on the horizon. While many leagues and conferences have resumed play, Penn and the rest of the Ivy League are patiently waiting.
The Ivy League Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments scheduled for March 13 to 15 have been canceled, the League office announced on Tuesday.
The decision was made in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and occurred after Harvard, the host of the tournament, announced it was moving classes online after its spring break.
Instead of sending the tournament winners to the NCAA Tournament, the Ivy League will instead give the regular season champions— Yale for the men and Princeton for the women — automatic bids to March Madness.
Penn men's and women's basketball, which were seeded fourth and second respectively in the tournaments, will no longer have an opportunity to claim the Ancient Eight's spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Ivy League is the first NCAA conference to announce the cancellation of a conference basketball tournament.
The Ivy League announced in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that it would be canceling all spring sporting events for the remainder of the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was made unanimously by the Ivy League presidents and affects both practices and competitions.
The statement came just minutes before Penn's announcement that it would be moving classes online for the remainder of the semester.
"Several Ivy League institutions have announced that students will not return to campus after spring break, and classes will be held virtually during the semester," the statement read. "Given this situation, it is not feasible for practice and competition to continue."
The Penn Relays will not occur in 2020, at least not to its full extent, according to a statement posted on the Relays website Monday morning.
The annual event has run every year since 1895, marking its 125th anniversary last year with a special commemoration. In lieu of the standard three-day competition, Penn Athletics announced its intention to host a substitute one-day event later in the spring to make up for the cancellation.
"Based on the current novel coronavirus pandemic, we cannot host an event in late April without putting our participants, spectators, officials, volunteers, and staff at risk," wrote Penn director of athletics M. Grace Calhoun in the statement. "We remain hopeful that the recent measures put in place by many health organizations, government officials, and academic institutions will curtail the spread of this disease."
Although the meet adapted to conditions during both World Wars and other national crises, this year is the first that it was canceled completely.
The 2021 Penn Relays are still on as scheduled, slated for April 22-24 on Franklin Field.
The Ivy League announced Wednesday that it has canceled all competitive sports until January 1, making it the first NCAA Division I athletic conference to enact such a policy.
A decision on whether or not the canceled sports, including football, will be made up in the spring has not yet been made.
Players and teams will be allowed to practice as long as the training stays within each institution's procedures as well as state regulations.
Fall sport athletes will not lose a year of eligibility regardless of their decision to enroll, but it is unclear if the Ivy League's rule prohibiting graduate students from playing has been altered.
The decisions were made after a nationwide spike in coronavirus cases in July, and after several members of the Ivy League revealed plans for online classes and reduced student density on campus in the fall. Only Penn and Cornell are allowing the entire student body to return, while the other six schools are rotating which classes can come back.
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.
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 and transferred, 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.
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