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Ivy League cancels winter sports due to COVID-19

Decision on spring sports postponed to February, fall sports will not occur in spring

The Ivy League will cancel winter sports for the 2020-21 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to an official statement published Thursday. Spring sports will not begin until at least the end of February. 

The Ivy League also confirmed that fall sports would not be played in the 2020-21 academic year, putting to rest speculation that the fall sports season, which was canceled July 8, could be made up in the spring.

The decision to cancel winter sports was made unanimously by the Ivy League Council of Presidents, which is composed of the presidents of each Ivy League school. “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 presidents wrote in a joint statement. 

Student-athletes will still be allowed to practice according to each school’s individual safety guidelines. Fall and winter athletes who lost their opportunity to compete this year will not lose a year of athletic eligibility. 

“I’m disappointed for the students, for the coaches, because they work hard and this is very important to them,” said Athletic Director Jack Hayes in an interview with The Herald. “But at the same time, I understand that in the big picture of where this virus is, this was a decision that had to be made.”

Brown’s student-athletes were informed of the decision on a Nov. 12 Zoom webinar led by Hayes. The athletes then met with their individual teams to discuss the implications of the Ivy League’s decision for their sport.

“I wasn’t surprised by it. I was upset though,” said wrestler Ricky Cabanillas ’23. “Of course I want to wrestle and be a part of that team.”

According to Cabanillas, wrestling coach Todd Beckerman has suggested to his wrestlers that they take leave during the spring semester so that they can compete for Brown for another season. Although fall and winter athletes will not lose a year of athletic eligibility, Brown’s rule that only undergraduate students can participate in athletics still stands.

Men’s basketball player Jaylan Gainey ’22 emphasized that his team will continue to stay focused despite their disappointment in the cancellation of their season. “Next move is to keep getting better,” he said. “We’re still going to stay in touch. We’re going to work out tomorrow.”

Gainely added that the team has to “make sure our seniors feel love, because this is their last year. It is taking more of a toll on them than it is (on) the others.”

Men’s and women’s water polo coach Felix Mercado discussed the impact of the Ivy League decision on both the men’s team, which plays in the fall, and the women’s team, which plays in the spring and still faces an uncertain future.

“With the men … we are going to make sure we are improving for the years to come,” Mercado said. “I talked to the seniors about (how) their legacy in the program isn’t based on winning and losing, it’s based on their leadership and the example they set.”

“On the women … there’s still that possibility they can play,” Mercado continued. “Their job when finals are done is to get back in the water and to train and be ready to play, but also be prepared if they cancel our season. There’s just too many other things that are way more important than sports.”


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