As colleges around the country prepare to return to school, and by proxy college sports, the continued spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to drive decisions.
The Ivy League has officially canceled all fall sports, prohibiting any athletic events before the conclusion of the fall semester. For most schools, that is the first week of December. While the Ivy League isn't the the decision maker for college football—Harvard isn't changing the minds of Athletic Directors on the transfer portal protocol—it should be noted that the Ivy League was the first to cancel spring sports. At the time, it seemed like an overreaction, jumping the gun. But in retrospect, they were simply the first to do what everyone else was scared to do. Therefore, this decision and its possible impact on college football nation wide, can't simply be ignored.
Student athletes in the Ivy League will not lose a year of eligibility. They will be allowed to continue to practice and workout with their teams as long as they are abiding by state and local guidelines for social distancing, gathering, etc.
In a statement released by the league, the decision was explained this way:
"Amidst continuing health and safety concerns due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Ivy League Council of Presidents has set in place plans for intercollegiate athletics activity in the upcoming fall semester.
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."
In the Power Five, the Big Ten has taken a less drastic but still massively important step. The league will only allow their football teams to play within the conference, first reported by Nicole Auerbach of "The Athletic."
Said the Big Ten in a statement:
"We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority.
To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic."
So what does all of this mean for the rest of the sport and particularly the Florida Gators?
That's a good question and one which no one has an answer, including those in charge. If the SEC follows the Big Ten model, the teams would be playing only eight league games. however, there is a large outspoken argument for the SEC to go to nine league games. This could be the kick the league office needs to make the change for which coaches and fans have been asking.
The ACC also plays eight league games, leading Seth Emerson to propagate an idea the two leagues could strike a deal to keep a nine game schedule while also keeping rivalries.
It's an ever changing situation in an ever changing world. Stay with GatorBait Magazine for the latest updates and analysis. Wear a mask.