Harvard and Yale during Ivy League football game
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Ivy League is cancelling its fall sports, including college football, becoming the first major sports league to suspend sports for the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ivy League cancels fall sports, including college football

When the COVID-19 pandemic first started sweeping across the United States in March, the Ivy League reacted quickly by canceling its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. While the move drew some criticism at the time, it was followed by the NCAA canceling March Madness, the NBA suspending its season and MLB postponing Opening Day within days.

The pandemic has only worsened across the United States, especially in recent weeks. The country reported a record 60,000 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, coming just days after it set the previous record.

On Wednesday, the Ivy League is set to announce it is canceling its fall sports, including college football. The conference won’t even consider bringing sports back until January. Similar to the conference’s decision to cancel the basketball tournaments, the move came in the interest of student safety.

The decision results in Yale, Princeton, Penn, Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia and Brown all seeing their upcoming football season delayed until next year. It also means “The Game”, the iconic rivalry between Harvard and Yale, won’t be played this year for the first time since 1943 and ’44.

While the decision will directly impact the eight schools, it could also be the first domino to fall in an eventual wave of similar decisions.

Will there be college football this fall?

Unfortunately, the chances of college football being played this season continue to diminish due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was one of the more optimistic voices in football regarding the possibility of playing this season. Unfortunately, the worsening crisis has changed his tone. Recently, Scott said the chances of football being played this fall are “a lot more perilous” due to the spike in cases across the United States.

The Ivy League’s decision could also be a stepping stone for smaller programs and schools. According to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman and Nicole Auerbach, many college administrators across Division I expect a cascading effect following this announcement.

While it might not happen immediately, momentum is building toward moving the 2020 college football season to next spring. Such a move would protect students, give schools more time to make plans and there could be a vaccine for the coronavirus next spring. It will all be crucial given the COVID-19 outbreak across schools already.

COVID-19 cases among college football players

Since the NCAA lifted its moratorium on voluntary workouts ended, there has been a massive spike in COVID-19 cases among student-athletes.