SALT LAKE CITY — The Ivy League won’t be playing any sports this fall, including football.
The league’s council of presidents made that announcement Wednesday afternoon in news that was first reported by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. Rothstein reported the league will not play any sports before Jan. 1, 2021.
The Ivy League becomes the first Division I conference to cancel all fall sports.
“We are entrusted to create and maintain an educational environment that is guided by health and safety considerations. There can be no greater responsibility — and that is the basis for this difficult decision,” the Ivy League said in a statement.
The Ivy League was also the first conference to cancel its basketball tournament in March, as the pandemic started to make its impact on the sports world. The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil reported that the Ivy League is hopeful to move its fall sports to the spring, but there is no determination at this time.
How could this decision play a role for college football at other institutions and conferences across the country?
Stadium national college reporter Brett McMurphy said that there shouldn’t necessarily be the expectation that Football Bowl Subdivision-level programs or conferences at the highest level of college football follow suit and cancel or postpone the 2020 football season. A source told McMurphy, “Doubt Ivies have much influence (w/FBS schools). They aren’t as vulnerable financially.”
“There are important decisions to be made in the coming weeks and by late July there should be more clarity about the fall season,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement to ESPN on Monday. “In the meantime, our athletics programs will continue to effectively manage the health and safety of our student-athletes as they continue voluntary activities on their respective campuses.”
It remains to be seen how Utah’s three FBS-level programs — Utah in the Pac-12, BYU as an independent, and Utah State in the Mountain West Conference — will be impacted, even as the college football world has seen numerous cases where players have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks as players have been permitted to participate in voluntary workouts. There are only 56 days remaining until Utah is scheduled to host BYU in their 2020 season opener on Sept. 3, the same day Utah State hosts Washington State.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott discussed various scenarios the conference is looking at in regards to the 2020 football season, with the coronavirus creating so much uncertainty, during a recent NCAA Social Series podcast with Andy Katz.
“We have been working toward being able to play full schedules in the fall,” Scott said. “As part of that, we have been working toward an agreement with all the teams we play in the non-conference on common testing standards, testing before each game so that we could be comfortable with non-conference play. Having said that, there has been a lot of work done on a conference-only schedule, an abbreviated schedule, a postponed schedule, maybe even a spring schedule.”
Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway said he expects the Big Ten — which the Scarlet Knights compete in — to make a decision on the fall sports season in the next two weeks, according to NJ.com.
“The (conference) council of presidents and chancellors are in intense conversations about this. We will be following the guidance of the conference, and we are certainly keeping a close eye on how things develop with (scheduled restarts in the NBA and Major League Baseball). More information on that front will be coming out very soon. If I had to guess, within two weeks there will be a final declaration,” Holloway said in a press conference Monday.
How the Ivy League decision impacts other FCS schools will also be worth monitoring. Locally, Weber State and Southern Utah compete in the Big Sky Conference, while Dixie State recently moved up to Division I and is set to play as an FCS independent in 2020.
Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that the FCS commissioners participated in a conference call Wednesday.
“There’s no imminent movement for the rest of the FCS to begin exploring a spring season. A majority of the FCS commissioners are content with status quo for now,” Thamel wrote on Twitter.