The Ivy League has become the first Division I NCAA conference to postpone all Fall sports participation for the upcoming school year due to COVID-19. The conference and its eight member institutions announced that all fall sports will be canceled while winter sports will not begin until after the end of the fall semester. The exact language is as follows:
With the safety and well-being of students as their highest priority, Ivy League institutions are implementing campus-wide policies including restrictions on student and staff travel, requirements for social distancing, limits on group gatherings, and regulations for visitors to campus. As athletics is expected to operate consistent with campus policies, it will not be possible for Ivy League teams to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition prior to the end of the fall semester.
While The Ivy League is known more for their prestigious academics than athletics, hockey is the sport that will undoubtedly feel the effect of the conference’s absence. Schools like Cornell and Harvard are perennial NCAA Tournament contenders out of the ECAC and numerous NHL prospects play on Ivy League teams. Additionally, The Ivy League’s scheduled opponents in the first half of the season will also be left scrambling. Of course, that assumes that other schools and conferences don’t also follow The Ivy League and postpone or cancel their early games.
The Ivy League’s move could have a lasting impression beyond this season as well. Former Harvard commit Trevor Kuntar, expected to be a mid-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, switched his commitment to Boston College yesterday citing concerns about missed games at Harvard, according to Jeff Cox of the New England Hockey Journal. It seems like only a matter of time before other Ivy League hopefuls follow suit. One interesting case is another Harvard commit, USNTDP product Matthew Beniers, who is expected to be an early first-round pick in 2021. Can Beniers afford the missed opportunity to perform for scouts in the first half of the season? This and many more questions are certain to arise with this major decision by the Ivy League.