FILE – In this March 17, 2019, file photo, Yale players pose for a photograph with the championship trophy after defeating Harvard in an NCAA college basketball game for the Ivy League championship. The Ivy League on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, canceled its 2020-21 men’s and women’s basketball seasons because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
By DOUG FEINBERG / AP Basketball Writer
The Ivy League became the first Division I conference this year to cancel all winter sports, including men’s and women’s basketball.
The decision Thursday came 13 days before the scheduled start of the college basketball season. The league had decided this past summer, when it canceled fall sports, not to allow any of its sports to start play before early December.
“Regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to intercollegiate athletics competition in a safe manner,” the Ivy League presidents said in a joint statement. “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.
“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.”
Coaches and athletes were informed of the news on video conference calls Thursday evening.
The news comes as the coronavirus cases are soaring across the U.S. Newly confirmed cases per day in the U.S. have rocketed more than 70% over the past two weeks, reaching an average of about 127,000 — the highest on record. And the number of people hospitalized with the virus hit an all-time high of more than 65,000.
Deaths per day in the U.S. have soared more than 40% over the past two weeks, from an average of about 790 to more than 1,100 as of Wednesday, the highest level in three months. That’s still well below the peak of about 2,200 deaths per day in late April.
The Ivy League has tried to be in front of the virus. The league was the first conference to scrap its postseason basketball tournament last March. That preceded a cascade of cancellations. All major college and professional sports were halted within days.
The Ivy League announcement affects not just basketball, but wrestling, indoor track and field, swimming, fencing and other sports. The league also said that spring sports are postponed through at least the end of February 2021.