Presidents from the league’s eight schools met earlier this week and made the decision unanimously. They also decided that they wouldn’t try to play any of the already-cancelled fall sports, such as football, this spring.
“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,” Ivy presidents said in a statement. “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.”
Though not among the highest-profile conferences in college sports, the Ivy League’s decision is likely to turn heads across the NCAA. Back in March, it was the first conference to cancel its postseason basketball tournament, a decision that was initially mocked by some within the sport, then followed by every other D1 conference in the subsequent days.
It was the first D1 conference to cancel spring sports, also in March, and in July became one of the first leagues to call off fall sports, including football. Throughout the pandemic, Ivy League leaders have stressed the information shared by their members—seven of which have medical schools—as critical to helping them make decisions about when to make drastic changes to their athletic plans.
The league also has less at stake financially in college sports. Backed by schools with some of the largest endowments in the country, and lacking the billion-dollar TV deals of some of their peers, Ivy League athletic departments don’t have the same financial pressures as those at other schools.
The decision comes as COVID-19 cases rise across the nation. There were 143,408 new cases in the U.S. on Wednesday, the country’s highest one-day total, according to the CDC. Ten college football games originally scheduled for this weekend have been postponed because of outbreaks on various campuses.