After more than a year away from competition, Ivy League athletics are back on the horizon.
According to The Harvard Crimson, The Ivy League Council of Presidents released a statement last week that the league expects to return to a full athletic schedule in the fall semester of the 2021-22 academic year.
“[G]iven the current steady decline of COVID-19 infections in this country, and the broad availability and uptake of vaccinations, we are optimistic that our campuses will be back to something close to normal by this fall, including in-person learning with students in residence,” the statement reads. “And this includes our expectation for the resumption of regular competitive schedules for Ivy League athletics across all sports beginning in fall 2021.”
That’s a significant announcement for a conference that hasn’t held any athletic competitions since canceling its men’s and women’s conference basketball tournaments in March 2020. The Ivy League has consistently been ahead of the college landscape in canceling or postponing events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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However, as most conferences across the country have returned to competition, the Ivy League has remained on the sideline. Student-athletes at Ivy League schools have only been permitted to train and practice “in accordance with each institution’s procedures and applicable state and legal regulations.”
If the conference returns to competition this fall, it will have gone about a year and a half without athletic events, as the league announced in February that spring sports were canceled for the second straight year.
“As campus and community leaders, we believe that our public health responsibilities and educational principles preclude us from sponsoring Ivy League athletics competition this spring,” the Council of Presidents said in the February statement. “The public health measures now in effect at all Ivy League universities have been carefully designed to support our teaching and research missions while keeping our students, faculty, staff and neighboring communities safe. These policies include restrictions on travel, limitations on campus visitors, and other pandemic related regulations that are not compatible with the Ivy League’s usual competition schedule. In the Ivy League, these measures must apply equally to our athletics programs along with other academic and co-curricular activities.”
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The Harvard Crimson reported that the Ivy League Council of Presidents convened earlier this month to “finalize their shared aim of returning to regular competition for the upcoming fall season, ‘barring any extraordinary circumstance’ surrounding the pandemic.”
With the prolonged cancellations, the Ivy League has temporarily changed its long-standing policy that graduate students aren’t allowed to participate in athletics. Ivy League graduate students will be allowed to compete next year.